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DEAS/' she said. " Oh, as for ideas- 
"Well?" I hazarded, "as for ideas- 



We went through the old gateway and I 
cast a glance over my shoulder. The noon sun 
was shining over the masonry, over the little 
saints' effigies, over the little fretted canopies,' 
the grime and the white streaks of bird-dropping. 

" There," I said, pointing toward it, " doesn't 
that suggest something to you? " 

She made a motion with her head — ^half nega- 
tive, half contemptuous. 

" But," I stuttered, " the associations — ^the 
ideas — the historical ideas " 

She said nothing. 

"Yoii Americans,'* I began, but her smile 
stopped me. It was as if she were amused at the 
utterances of an old lady shocked by the habits 



• • • 

bVih€ datugKters of the day. It was the smile of 
a person who is confident of superseding one 

In conversations of any length one of the par- 
ties assumes the superiority — superiority of rank, 
intellectual or social. In this conversation she, if 
she did not attain to tacitly acknowledged tem* 
peramental superiority, seemed at least to claim 
it, to have no doubt as to its ultimate according. 
I was unused to this. I was a talker, proud of 
my conversational powers. 

I had looked at her before; now I cast a side- 
ways, critical glance at her. I came out of my 
moodiness to wonder what type this was. She 
had good hair, good eyes, and some charm. Yes. 
And something besides — a something — z some- 
thing that was not an attribute of her beauty. 
The modelling of her {ace was so perfect and so 
delicate as to produce an effect of transparency, 
yet there was no suggestion of frailness; her 
glance had an extraordinary strength of life. Her 
hair was fair and gleaming, her cheeks coloured 
as if a warm light had fallen on them from some- 
where. She was familiar till it occurred to you 
that she was strange. 



'* Which way arc you going? " she asked. 

" I am going to walk to Dover/* I answered. 

" And I may come with you? '* 

I looked at her — ^intent on divining her in 
that one glance. It was of course impossible. 
" There will be time for analysis/' I thought. 

" The roads are free to all/' I said. " You are 
not an American? " 

She shook her head. No. She was not an 
Australian either^ she came from none of the Brit- 
ish colonies. 

"You are not English/* I affirmed. "You 
speak too well." I was piqued. She did not 
answer. She smiled again and I grew angry. In 
the cathedral she had smiled at the verger's com- 
mendation of particularly abominable restora- 
tionSy and that smile had drawn me toward her, 
had emboldened me to offer deferential and con- 
demnatory remarks as to the plaster-of-Paris 
mouldings. You know how one addresses a 
young lady who is obviously capable of taking 
care of herself. That was how I had come across 
her. She had smiled at the gabble of the cathe- 
dral guide as he showed the obsessed troop, of 
which we had formed units, the place of martyr- 



dom of Blessed Thomas, and her smile had had 
just that quality of superseder's contempt. It had 
pleased me then; but, now that she smiled thus 
past me — ^it was not quite at me — ^in the crooked 
highways of the town, I was irritated. After all, 
I was somebody; I was not a cathedral verger. 
I had a fancy for myself in those days — ^ fancy 
that solitude and brooding had crystallised into a 
habit of mind. I was a writer with high — ^with the 
highest — ^ideals. I had withdrawn myself from the 
world, lived isolated, hidden in the country-side, 
lived as hermits do, on the hope of one day doing 
something — of putting greatness on paper. She 
suddenly fathomed my thoughts: "You write," 
she affirmed. I asked how she knew, wondered 
what she had read of mine — there was so little. 

" Are you a popular author? " she asked. 

"Alas, no!" I answered. "You must know 

" You would like to be? " 

"We should all of us like," I answered; 
** though it is true some of us protest that we aim 
for higher things." 

" I sec," she said, musingly. As far as I could 
tell she was coming to some decision. With an 



instinctive dislike to any such proceeding as re- 
garded myself, I tried to cut across her unknown 

" But, really — " I said, " I am quite a common- 
place topic. Let us talk about yourself. Where 
do you come from? " 

It occurred to me again that I was intensely 
unacquainted with her type. Here was the same 
smile — ^as far as I could see, exactly the same 
smile. There are fine shades in smiles as in 
laughs, as in tones of voice. I seemed unable to 
hold my tongue. 

" Where do you come from? " I asked. " You 
must belong to one of the new nations. You 
are a foreigner, Fll swear, because you have such 
a fine contempt for us. You irritate me so that 
you might almost be a Prussian. But it is obvi- 
ous that you are of a new nation that is begin- 
ning to find itself." 

" Oh, we are to inherit the earth, if that is 
what you mean," she said. 

" The phrase is comprehensive," I said. I was 
determined not to give myself away. " Where 
in the world do you come from?" I repeated. 
The question, I was quite conscious, would have 



sufficed, but in the hope/ 1 suppose, of establish- 
ing my intellectual superiority, I continued: 

" You know, fair play's a jewel. Now Fm 
quite willing to give you information as to myself. 
I have already told you the essentials — ^you ought 
to tell me something. It would only be fair play.** 

" Why should there be any fair play? " she 

" What have you to say against that? " I said. 
*' Do you not number it among your national 
characteristics? " 

" You really wish to know where I come 
from? " 

I expressed light-hearted acquiescence. 

'' Listen," she said, and uttered some sounds. 
I felt a kind of unholy emotion. It had come 
like a sudden, suddenly hushed, intense gust of 

wind through a breathless day. " What 

what ! " I cried. 

" I said I inhabit the Fourth Dimension." 

I recovered my equanimity with the thought 
that I had been visited by some stroke of an ob- 
scure and unimportant physical kind. 

" I think we must have been climbing the hill 
too fast for me," I said, '* I have not been very 



well. I missed what you said." I was certainly 
out of breath. 

" I said I inhabit the Fourth Dimension," 
she repeated with admirable gravity. 

" Oh, come," I expostulated, " this is playing 
it rather low down. You walk a convalescent out 
of breath and then propound riddles to him." 

I was recovering my breath, and, with it, my 
inclination to expand. Instead, I looked at her. 
I was beginning to understand. It was obvious 
enough that she was a foreigner in a strange land, 
in a land that brought out her national charac- 
teristics. She must be of some race, perhaps 
Semitic, perhaps Sclav — of some incomprehen- 
sible race. I had never seen a Circassian, and 
there used to be a tradition that Circassian 
women were beautiful, were fair-skinned, and so 
on. What was repelling in her was accounted for 
by this difference in national point of view. One 
is, after all, not so very remote from the horse. 
What one does not understand one shies at — 
finds sinister, in fact. And she struck me as sin- 

" You won't tell me who you are? " I said. 
" I have done so," she answered. 



" If you expect me to believe that you inhabit 
a mathematical monstrosity, you are mistaken. 
You are, really." 

She turned round and pointed at the city. 

" Look!" she said. 

We had climbed the western hill. Below our 
feet, beneath a sky that the wind had swept 
clean of clouds, was the valley; a broad bowl, 
shallow, filled with the purple of smoke-wreaths. 
And above the mass of red roofs there soared the 
golden stonework of the cathedral tower. It was 
a vision, the last word of a great art. I looked 
at her. I was moved, and I knew that the glory 
of it must have moved her. 

She was smiling. "Look!" she repeated. I 

There was the purple and the red, and the 
golden tower, the vision, the last word. She said 
something — uttered some sound. 

What had happened? I don't know. It all 
looked contemptible. One seemed to see some- 
thing beyond, something vaster — vaster than 
cathedrals, vaster than the conception of the gods 
to whom cathedrals were raised. The tower 
reeled out of the perpendicular. One saw beyond 

181 . . - 


it, not roofs, or smoke, or hills, but an unreal- 
ised, an unrealisable infinity of space. 

It was merely momentary. The tower filled its 
place again and I looked at her. 

" What the devil," I said, hysterically—" what 
the devil do you play these tricks upon me 
for? " 

" You see," she answered, " the rudiments of 
the sense are there." 

" You must excuse me if I fail to understand," 
I said, grasping after fragments of dropped dig- 
nity. " I am subject to fits of giddiness." I felt 
a need for covering a species of nakedness. " Par- 
don my swearing," I added; a proof of recovered 

We resumed the road in silence. I was physi- 
cally and mentally shaken ; and I tried to deceive 
myself as to the cause. After some time I said : 

" You insist then in preserving your — your in- 

" Oh, I make no mystery of myself," she an- 

" You have told me that you come from the 
Fourth Dimension," I remarked, ironically. 
I come from the Fourth Dimension," she said, 




patiently. She had the air of one in a position 
of difficulty; of one aware of it and ready to 
brave it. She had the listlessness of an enlight- 
ened person who has to explain, over and over 
again, to stupid children some rudimentary point 
of the multiplication table. 

She seemed to divine my thoughts, to be aware 
of their very wording. She even said " yes " at 
the opening of her next speech. 

" Yes," she said. " It is as if I were to try 
to explain the new ideas of any age to a person 
of the age that has gone before." She paused, 
seeking a concrete illustration that would touch 
me. "As if I were explaining to Dr. Johnson 
the methods and the ultimate vogue of the gock- 
ney school of poetry." 

" I understand," I said, " that you wish me to 
consider myself as relatively a Choctaw. But 
what I do not understand is; what bearing that 
has upon — upon the Fourth Dimension, I think 
you said? " 

" I will explain," she replied. 

" But you must explain as if you were explain- 
ing to a Choctaw," I said, pleasantly, " you must 
be concise and convincing." 



She answered: " I will." 

She made a long speech of it; I condense. I 
can't remember her exact words — there were so 
many; but she spoke like a book. There was 
something exquisitely piquant in her choice of 
words, in her expressionless voice. I seemed to 
be listening to a phonograph reciting a technical 
work. There was a touch of the incongruous, 
of the mad, that appealed to me — the common- 
place rolling-down landscape, the straight, white, 
undulating road that, from the tops of rises, 
one saw running for miles and miles, straight, 
straight, and so white. Filtering down through 
the great blue of the sky came the thrilling of 
innumerable skylarks. And I was listening to 
a parody of a scientific work recited by a pho- 

I heard the nature of the Fourth Dimension — 
heard that it was an inhabited plane — invisible to 
our eyes, but omnipresent; heard that I had 
seen it when Bell Harry had reeled before my 
eyes. I heard the Dimensionists described: a 
race clear-sighted, eminently practical, incred- 
ible; with no ideals, prejudices, or remorse ; with 
no feeling for art and no reverence for life; free 



from any ethical tradition; callous to pain, weak- 
ness, suffering and death, as if they had been 
invulnerable and immortal. She did not say that 
they were immortal, however. " You would — 
you will — ^hate us," she concluded. And I seemed 
only then to come to myself. The power of her 
imagination was so great that I fancied myself 
face to face with the truth. I supposed she had 
been amusing herself; that she should have tried 
to frighten me was inadmissible. I don't pretend 
that I was completely at my ease, but I said, ami- 
ably: " You certainly have succeeded in making 
these beings hateful." 

" I have made nothing," she said with a faint 
smile, and went on amusing herself. She would 
explain origins, now. 

" Your " — she used the word as signifying, I 
suppose, the inhabitants of the country, or the 
populations of the earth — " your ancestors were 
mine, but long ago you were crowded out of the 
Dimension as we are to-day, you overran the 
earth as we shall do to-morrow. But you con- 
tracted diseases, as we shall contract them, — 
beliefs, traditions; fears; ideas of pity ... of 
love. You grew luxurious in the worship of your 



ideals, and sorrowful; you solaced yourselves with 
creeds, with arts — ^you have forgotten ! " 

She spoke with calm conviction; with an over* 
whelming and dispassionate assurance. She was 
stating facts; not professing a faith. We ap* 
proached a little roadside inn. On a bench be- 
fore the door a dun-clad country fellow was 
asleep, his head on the table. 

" Put your fingers in your ears," my compan- 
ion commanded. 

I htunoured her. 

I saw her lips move. The countryman started, 
shuddered, and by a clumsy, convulsive motion 
of his arms, upset his quart. He rubbed his eyes. 
Before he had voiced his emotions we had passed 


I have seen a horse-coper do as much for a 
stallion,*' I commented. " I know there are 
words that have certain effects. But you 
shouldn't play pranks like the low-comedy devil 
in Faustus." 

" It isn't good form, I suppose? " she 

" It's a matter of feeling," I said, hotly, " the 
poor fellow has lost his beer." 



" What's that to me? " she commented, with 
the air of one affording a concrete illustration. 

" It's a good deal to him," I answered. 

" But what to me? '* 

I said nothing. She ceased her exposition im- 
mediately afterward, growing silent as suddenly 
as she had become discoursive. It was rather as 
if she had learnt a speech by heart and had come 
to the end of it. I was quite at a loss as to what 
she was driving at. There was a newness, a 
strangeness about her; sometimes she struck me 
as mad, sometimes as frightfully sane. We had a 
meal somewhere — sl meal that broke the current 
of her speech — and then, in the late afternoon, 
took a by-road and wandered in secluded valleys. 
I had been ill ; trouble of the nerves, brooding, the 
monotony of life in the shadow of unsuccess. I 
had an errand in this part of the world and had 
been approaching it deviously, seeking the nor- 
mal in its quiet hollows, trying to get back to 
my old self. I did not wish to think of how I 
should get through the year — of the thousand lit- 
tle things that matter. So I talked and she — she 
listened very well. 

But topics exhaust themselves and, at the last, 



I myself brought the talk round to the Fourth 
Dimension. We were sauntering along the for- 
gotten valley that lies between Hardves and Stel- 
ling Minnis; we had been silent for several min- 
utes. For me, at least, the silence was pregnant 
with the undefinable emotions that, at times, run 
in currents between man and woman. The sun 
was getting low and it was shadowy in those 
shrouded hollows. I laughed at some thought, 
I forget what, and then began to badger her with 
questions. I tried to exhaust the possibilities of 
the Dimensionist idea, made grotesque sugges- 
tions. I said : " And when a great many of you 
have been crowded out of the Dimension and 
invaded the earth you will do so and so — " 
something preposterous and ironical. She coldly 
dissented, and at once the irony appeared as 
gross as the jocularity of a commercial traveller. 
Sometimes she signified: " Yes, that is- what we 
shall do; *^ signified it without speaking — by some 
gesture perhaps, I hardly know what. There was 
something impressive — something almost regal 
— in this manner of hers; it was rather frighten- 
ing in those lonely places, which were so forgot- 
ten, so gray, so closed in. There was something of 




the past world about the hanging woods, the little 
veils of unmoving mist — ^as if time did not exist 
in those furrows of the great world; and one was 
so absolutely alone; anything might have hap- 
pened. I grew weary of the sotmd of my tongue. 
But when I wanted to cease, I found she had on 
me the effect of some incredible stimulant. 

We came to the end of the valley where the 
road begins to climb the southern hill, out into 
the open air. I managed to maintain an uneasy 
silence. From her grimly dispassionate reitera- 
tions I had attained to a clear idea, even to a 
visualisation, of her fantastic conception — ^allc- 
^ory, madness, or whatever it was. She certainly 
forced it home. The Dimensionists were to come 
in swarms, to materialise, to devour like locusts, 
to be all the more irresistible because indistin- 
guishable. They were to come like snow in the 
night: in the morning one would look out and 
find the world white; they were to come as the 
gray hairs come, to sap the strength of us as the 
years sap the strength of the muscles. As to 
methods, we should be treated as we ourselves 
treat the inferior races. There would be no fight- 
ing, no killing; we--our whole social system— 



would break as a beam snaps, because we were 
worm-eaten with altruism and ethics. We, at our 
worst, had a certain limit, a certain stage where 
we exclaimed: " No, this is playing it too low 
down," because we had scruples that acted like 
handicapping weights. She uttered, I think, only 
two sentences of connected words: "We shall 
race with you and we shall not be weighted," and, 
** We shall merely sink you lower by our weight." 
All the rest went like this : 

" But then," I would say • . . " we shall 
not be able to trust anyone. Anyone may be one 
of you. . . ." She would answer: " Anyone." 
She prophesied a reign of terror for us. As one 
passed one's neighbour in the street one would 
cast sudden, piercing glances at him. 

I was silent. The birds were singing the sun 
down. It was very dark among the branches, 
and from minute to minute the colours of the 
world deepened and grew sombre. 

" But " I said. A feeling of unrest was 

creeping over me. " But why do you tell me all 
this? " I asked. " Do you think I will enlist with 
you? " 

*' You will have to in the end," she said, " and I 



ever meet again? " My voice came huskily, as if 
I had not spoken for years and years. 

" Oh, very often," she answered. 

"Very often?" I repeated. I hardly knew 
whether I was pleased or dismayed. Through the 
gate-gap in a hedge, I caught a glimmer of a 
white house front. It seemed to belong to an- 
other world; to another order of things. 

"Ah . . . here is Callan V' I said. "This 
is where I was going. . . ." 

" I know," she answered; " we part here." 

" To meet again? " I asked. 

" Oh ... to meet again; why, yes, to meet 



HER figure faded into the darkness, as 
pale things waver down into deep water, 
and as soon as she disappeared my sense 
of humour returned. The episode appeared more 
clearly, as a flirtation with an enigmatic, but de- 
cidedly charming, chance travelling companion. 
The girl was a riddle, and a riddle once guessed 
is a very trivial thing. She, too, would be a very 
trivial thing when I had found a solution. It oc- 
curred to me that she wished me to regard her 
as a symbol, perhaps, of the future — ^as a type 
of those who are to inherit the earth, in fact. 
She had been playing the fool with me, in her 
insolent modernity. She had wished me to un- 
derstand that I was old-fashioned ; that the frame 
of mind of which I and my fellows were the in- 
heritors was over and done with. We were to 
be compulsorily retired; to stand aside superan- 
nuated. It was obvious that she was better 
equipped for the swiftness of life. She had a 



something — ^not only quickness of wit, not only 
ruthless determination, but a something quite 
different and quite indefinably more impressive. 
Perhaps it was only the confidence of the super- 
seder, the essential quality that makes for the 
empire of the Occidental. But I was not a negro 
— not even relatively a Hindoo. I was some- 
body, confound it, I was somebody. 

As an author, I had been so uniformly unsuc- 
cessful, so absolutely unrecognised, that I had got 
into the way of regarding myself as ahead of my 
time, as a worker for posterity. It was a habit of 
mind — the only revenge that I could take upon 
despiteful Fate. This girl came to confound me 
with the common herd — she declared herself to 
be that very posterity for which I worked. 

She was probably a member of some clique that 
called themselves Fourth Dimensionists — just 
as there had been pre-Raphaelites. It was a mat- 
ter of cant allegory. I began to wonder how it 
was that I had never heard of them. And how on 
earth had they come to hear of me! 

" She must have read something of mine," I 
found myself musing: " the Jenkins story per- 
haps. Itmust have been the Jenkins story; they 



gave it a good place in their rotten magazine. 
She must have seen that it was the real thing, 
and. . . ." When one is an author one looks 
at things in that way, you know. 

By that time I was ready to knock at the door 
of the great Callan. I seemed to be jerked into 
the commonplace medium of a great, great — oh, 
an infinitely great — novelist's home life. I was 
led into a well-lit drawing-room, welcomed by the 
great man's wife, gently propelled into a bed- 
room, made myself tidy, descended and was in- 
troduced into the sanctum, before my eyes had 
grown accustomed to the lamp-light. Callan 
was seated upon his sofa surrounded by an ad- 
miring crowd of very local personages. I forget 
what they looked like. I think there was a man 
whose reddish beard did not become him and an- 
other whose face might have been improved by 
the addition of a reddish beard ; there was also an 
extremely moody dark man and I vaguely recol- 
lect a person who lisped. 

They did not talk much ; indeed there was very 
little conversation. What there was Callan sup- 
plied. He — spoke — ^very — slowly — ^and — ^very^ — 
authoritatively, like a great actor whose aim is 



to hold the stage as long as possible. The rais- 
ing of his heavy eyelids at the opening door con- 
veyed the impression of a dark, mental weariness; 
and seemed somehow to give additional length 
to his white nose. His short, brown beard was 
getting very grey, I thought. With his lofty fore- 
head and with his superior, yet propitiatory smile, 
I was of course familiar. Indeed one saw them 
on posters in the street. The notables did not 
want to talk. They wanted to be spell-bound 
—and they were. Callan sat there in an ap- 
propriate attitude — the one in which he was 
always photographed. One hand supported his 
head, the other toyed with his watch-chain. His 
face was uniformly solemn, but his eyes were dis- 
concertingly furtive. He cross-questioned me as 
to my walk from Canterbury; remarked that the 
cathedral was a — magnificent — Gothic — Monu- 
ment and set me right as to the lie of the roads. 
He seemed pleased to find that I remembered 
very little of what I ought to have noticed on 
the way. It gave him an opportunity for the dis- 
play of his local erudition. 

" A — remarkable woman — used — to — ^live — ^in 
— the — cottage — ^next — the — mill — at — Stel- 



ling," he said; "she was the original of Kate 

" In your ' Boldero? ' " the chorus chorussed. 

Remembrance of the common at Stelling — of 
the glimmering white faces of the shadowy cot- 
tages — was like a cold waft of mist to me. I for- 
got to say " Indeed! " 

" She was — ^a very — ^remarkable — woman — 
She " 

I found myself wondering which was real ; the 
common with its misty-hedges and the blurred 
moon; or this room with its ranks of uniformly 
bound books and its bust of the great man that 
threw a portentous shadow upward from its 
pedestal behind the lamp. 

Before I had entirely recovered myself, the 
notables were departing to catch the last train. 
I was left alone with Callan. 

He did not trouble to resume his attitude for 
me, and when he did speak, spoke faster. 

" Interesting man, Mr. Jinks? " he said; " you 
recognised him? " 

"No,*' I said; "I don't think I ever met 

Callan looked annoyed. 


"I thought I'd got him pretty well. He's 
Hector Steele. In ray ' Blanfield/ " he added. 

" Indeed! " I said. I had never been able to 
read " Blanfield." " Indeed, ah, yes-— of course." 

There was an awkward pause. 

"The whiskey will be here in a minute/' he 
said, suddenly. " I don't have it in when What- 
not's here. He's the Rector, you know; a great 
temperance man. When we've had a — ^a modest 
quencher — ^we'U get to business." 

" Oh," I said, " your letters really meant ^" 

" Of course," he answered. " Oh, here's the 
whiskey. Well now, Fox was down here the 
other night. You know Fox, of course? " 

" Didn't he start the rag called ? " 

" Yes, yes," Callan answered, hastily, " he's 
been very successful in launching papers. Now 
he's trying his hand with a new one. He's any 
amount of backers — ^big names, you know. He's 
to run my next as a feuUleton. This — this vent- 
ure is to be rather more serious in tone than 
any that he's done hitherto. You understand?" 

"Why, yes," I said; "but I don't see where 
I come in." 

Callan took a meditative sip of whiskey, added 



a little more water, a little more whiskey, and 
then found the mixture to his liking. 

" You see/' he said, " Fox got a letter here to 
say that Wilkinson had died suddenly — some af- 
fection of the heart. Wilkinson was to have writ- 
ten a series of personal articles on prominent 
people. Well, Fox was nonplussed and I put in 
a word for you." 

" I*m sure Fm much — " I began. 

" Not at all, not at all," Callan interrupted, 
blandly. "I've known you and you've known me 
for 9 number of years." 

A sudden picture danced before my eyes — the 
portrait of the Callan of the old days — the fawn- 
ing, shady individual, with the seedy clothes, the 
furtive eyes and the obliging manners. 

" Why, yes," I said; " but I don't see that that 
gives me any claim." 

Callan cleared his throat. 

" The lapse of time," he said in his grand man- 
ner, '* rivets what we may call the bands of asso- 

He paused to inscribe this sentence on the tab- 
lets of his memory. It would be dragged in — 
to form a purple patch — ^in his new serial. 



" You see," he went on, " I've written a good 
deal of autobiographical matter and it would 
verge upon self-advertisement to do more. You 
know how much I dislike that. So I showed Fox 
your sketch in the Kensington,** 

" The Jenkins story? " I said. " How did you 
come to see it?" 

" Then send me the Kensington/* he answered. 
There was a touch of sourness in his tone, and I 
remembered that the Kensington I had seen had 
been ballasted with seven goodly pages by Cal- 
lan himself — seven unreadable packed pages of 
a serial. 

" As I was saying," Callan began again, " you 
ought to know me very well, and I suppose you 
are acquainted with my books. As for the rest, 
I will give you what material you want." 

" But, my dear Callan," I said, " I've never 
tried my hand at that sort of thing." 

Callan silenced me with a wave of his hand. 

" It struck both Fox and myself that your — 
your ' Jenkins ' was just what was wanted," he 
said ; " of course, that was a study of a kind 
of broken-down painter. But it was well 



I bowed my head. Praise from Callan was best 
acknowledged in silence. 

" You see, what we want, or rather what Fox 
wants/' he explained, "is a kind of series of 
studies of celebrities chez eux. Of course, they 
are not broken down. But if you can treat them 
as you treated Jenkins — get them in their studies, 
surrounded by what in their case stands for the 
broken lay figures and the faded serge curtains — 
it will be exactly the thing. It will be a new line, 
or rather — what is a great deal better, mind you 
— ^an old line treated in a slightly, very slightly 
diflfcrent way. That's what the public wants." 

"Ah, yes," I said, "that's what the public 
wants. But all the same, it's been done time out 
of mind before. Why, I've seen photographs of 
you and your armchair and your pen-wiper and 
so on, half a score of times in the sixpenny maga- 


Callan again indicated bland superiority with a 
wave of his hand. 

" You undervalue yourself," he said. 

I murmured — " Thanks." 

" This is to be — not a mere pandering to curi- 
osity — ^but an attempt to get at the inside of 



things — to get the atmosphere, so to speak; not 
merely to catalogue furniture/' 

He was quoting from the prospectus of the 
new paper, and then cleared his throat for the 
utterance of a tremendous truth. 

" Photography — ^is not — ^Axt," he remarked. 

The fantastic side of our colloquy began to 
strike me. 

"After all," I thought to myself, "why 
shouldn't that girl have played at being a denizen 
of another sphere? She did it ever so much bet- 
ter than Callan. She did it too well, I suppose." 

" The price is very decent," Callan chimed in. 
" I don't know how much per thousand, . . . 
but ..." 

I found myself reckoning, against my will as it 

" You'll do it, I suppose? " he said. 

I thought of my debts. ..." Why, yes, 
I suppose so," I answered. " But who are the 
others that I am to provide with atmospheres? " 

Callan shrugged his shoulders. 

" Oh, all sorts of prominent people — ^soldiers, 
statesmen, Mr. Churchill, the Foreign Minister, 
artists, preachers — all sorts of people." 



" All sorts of glory," occurred to me. 

" The paper will stand expenses up to a reason- 
able figfure," Callan reassured me. 

" It'll be a good joke for a time," I said. " I'm 
infinitely obliged to you." 

He warded off my thanks with both hands. 

" I'll just send a wire to Fox to say that you 
accept," he said, rising. He seated himself at 
his desk in the appropriate attitude. He had an 
appropriate attitude for every vicissitude of his 
life. These he had struck before so many peo- 
ple that even in the small hours of the morning he 
was ready for the kodak wielder. Beside him 
he had every form of labour-saver; every kind 
of literary knick-knack. There were book-holders 
that swung into positions suitable to appropriate 
attitudes; there were piles of little green boxes 
with red capital letters of the alphabet upon them, 
and big red boxes with black small letters. There 
was a writing-lamp that cast an aesthetic glow 
upon another appropriate attitude — and there 
was one typewriter with note-paper upon it, and 
another with MS. paper already in position. 

" My God! " I thought—" to these heights the 
Muse soars." 



As I looked at the gleaming pillars of the 
typewriters, the image of my own desk appeared 
to me; chipped, ink-stained, gloriously dusty. I 
thought that when again I lit my battered old 
tin lamp I should see ashes and match-ends; a 
tobacco-jar, an old gnawed penny penholder, bits 
of pink blotting-paper, match-boxes, old letters, 
and dust everywhere. And I knew that my atti- 
tude — when I sat at it — ^would be inappropriate. 

Callan was ticking oS the telegram upon his 
machine. "It will go in the iporning at eight," 
he said. 



TO encourage me, I suppose, Callan gave 
me the proof-sheets of his next to read 
in bed. The thing was so bad that it 
nearly sickened me of him and his jobs, I tried 
to read the stuff; to read it conscientiously, to 
read myself to sleep with it. I was under obli- 
gations to old Cal and I wanted to do him justice, 
but the thing was impossible. I fathomed a sort 
of a plot. It dealt in fratricide with a touch of 
adultery; a Great Moral Purpose loomed in the 
background. It would have been a dully readable 
novel but for that; as it was, it was intolerable. 
It was amazing that Cal himself could put out 
such stuff; that he should have the impudence. 
He was not a fool, not by any means a fool. It 
revolted me more than a little, 

I came to it out of a different plane of thought. 
I may not have been able to write then— or I 
may; but I did know enough to recognise the 
flagrantly, the indecently bad, and, upon my soul, 
the idea that I, too, must cynically offer this sort 



of stuff if I was ever to sell my tens of thousands 
very nearly sent me back to my solitude. Callan 
had begun very much as I was beginning now; 
he had even, I believe, had ideals in his youth 
and had starved a little. It was rather trying to 
think that perhaps I was really no more than 
another Callan, that, when at last I came to re- 
view my life, I should have much such a record 
to look back upon. It disgusted me a little, and 
when I put out the light the horrors settled down 
upon me. 

I woke in a shivering frame of mind, ashamed 
to meet Callan's eye. It was as if he must 
be aware of my over-night thoughts, as if he 
must think me a fool who quarrelled with my 
victuals. He gave no signs of any such knowl- 
edge — was dignified, cordial; discussed his 
breakfast with gusto, opened his letters, and so 
on. An anaemic amanuensis was taking notes for 
appropriate replies. How could I tell him that 
I would not do the work, that I was too proud 
and all the rest of it? He would have thought 
me a fool, would have stiffened into hostility, I 
should have lost my last chance. And, in the 
broad light of day, I was loath to do that. 



He began to talk about indifferent things; we 
glided out on to a current of mediocre conver- 
sation. The psychical moment, if there were any 
such, disappeared. 

Someone bearing my name had written to ex- 
press an intention of offering personal worship 
that afternoon. The prospect seemed to please the 
great Cal. He was used to such things; he found 
them pay, I suppose. We began desultorily to 
discuss the possibility of the writer's being a rela- 
tion of mine; I doubted. I had no relations that 
I knew of; there was a phenomenal old aunt who 
had inherited the acres and respectability of ^he 
Etchingham Grangers, but she was not the kind 
of person to worship a novelist. I, the poor last 
of the family, was without the pale, simply be- 
cause I, too, was a novelist. I explained these 
things to Callan and he commented on them, 
found it strange how small or how large, I forget 
which, the world was. Since his own apotheosis 
shoals of Callans had claimed relationship. 

I ate my breakfast. Afterward, we set about 
the hatching of that article — ^the thought of it 
sickens me even now. You will find it in the 
volume along with the others; you may see how 



I lugged in Callan's surroundings, his writing- 
room, his dining-room, the romantic arbour in 
which he found it easy to write love-scenes, the 
clipped treps like peacocks and the trees clipped 
like bears, and all the rest of the background for 
appropriate attitudes. He was satisfied with any 
arrangements of words that suggested a gentle 
awe on the part of the writer. 

" Yes,^es," he said once or twice, " that's just 
the touch, just the touch — ^very nice. But don't 
you think. . . ." We lunched after some time. 

I was so happy. Quite pathetically happy. 
It had come so easy to me. I had doubted my 
ability to do the sort of thing; but it had writ- 
ten itself, as money spends itself, and I was going 
to earn money like that. The whole of my past 
seemed a n^take — ^a childishness. I had kept 
out of this sort of thing because I had thought it 
below me; I had kept out of it and had starved 
my body and warped my mind. Perhaps I had 
even damaged my work by this isolation. To un- 
derstand life one must live — and I had only 
brooded. But, by Jove, I would try to live now. 

Callan had retired for his accustomed siesta 
and I was smoking pipe after pipe over a con-* 



foundedly bad French novel that I had found in 
the book-shelves. I must have been dozing. A 
voice from behind my back announced: 

" Miss Etchingham Granger! " and added — 
" Mr. Callan will be down directly." I laid down 
my pipe, wondered whether I ought to have been 
smoking when Cal expected visitors, and rose to 
my feet. 

" You ! " I said, sharply. She answered, " You 
see." She was smiling. She had been so much 
in my thoughts that I was hardly surprised — the 
thing had even an air of pleasant inevitability 
about it. 

" You must be a cousin of mine," I said, " the 
name — — " 

'* Oh, call it sister," she answered. 

I was feeling inclined for farce, if blessed chance 
would throw it in my way. You see^ was going 
to live at last, and life for me meant irrespon- 

" Ah ! " I said, ironically, " you are going to be 
a sister to me, as they say." She might have 
come the bogy over me last night in the moon- 
light, but now . . . There was a spice of dan- 
ger about it, too, just a touch lurking some- 



where. Besides, she was good-looking and well 
set up, and I couldn't see what could touch me. 
Even if it did, even if I got into a mess, I had 
no relatives, not even a friend, to be worried 
about me. I stood quite alone, and I half relished 
the idea of getting into a mess — it would be part 
of life, too. I was going to have a little money, 
and she excited my curiosity. I was tingling 
to know what she was really at. 

** And one might ask," I said, " what you are 
doing in this — ^in this. ..." I was at a loss for 
a word to describe the room— the smugness 
parading as professional Bohemianism. 

" Oh, I am about my own business," she 
said, " I told you last night — ^have you for- 
gotten? " 

" Last night you were to inherit the earth," I 
reminded her, " and one doesn't start in a place 
like this. Now I should have gone — ^well — I 
should have gone to some politician's house — ^a 
cabinet minister's — say to Gurnard's. He's the 
coming man, isn't he? " 

" Why, yes," she answered, " he's the coming 

You will remember that, in those days, Gurnard 



was only the dark horse of the ministry. I knew 
little enough of these things, despised politics 
generally; they simply didn't interest me. Gur- 
nard I disliked platonically; perhaps because his 
face was a little enigmatic — a little repulsive. 
The country, then, was in the position of having 
no Opposition and a Cabinet with two distinct 
strains in it — the Churchill and the Gurnard — 
and Gurnard was the dark horse. 

" Oh, you should join your fiats," I said, pleas- 
antly. " If he's the coming man, where do you 
come in? . . . Unless he, too, is a Dimension- 

" Oh, both — ^both,*' she answered. I admired 
the tranquillity with which she converted my 
points into her own. And I was very happy — ^it 
struck me as a pleasant sort of fooling. . . . 

" I suppose you will let me know some day 
who you are? " I said. 

" I have told you several times," she answered. 

" Oh, you won't frighten me to-day," I as- 
serted, ** not here, you know, and anyhow, why 
should you want to? " 

" I have told you," she said again, 

" You've told me you were my sister," I said; 



" but my sister died years and years ago. Still, 
if it suits you, if you want to be somebody's sis- 
ter . . ." 

" It suits me," she answered — " I want to be 
placed, you see." 

I knew that my name was good enough to 
place anyone. We had been the Grangers of 
Etchingham since — oh, since the flood. And if 
the girl wanted to be my sister and a Granger, 
why the devil shouldn't she, so long as she would 
let me continue on this footing? I hadn't talked 
to a woman — not to a well set-up one — ^for ages 
and ages. It was as if I had come back from 
one of the places to which younger sons exile 
themselves, and for all I knew it might be the 
correct thing for girls to elect brothers nowadays 
in one set or another. 

" Oh, tell me some more,'* I said, " one likes 
to know about one's sister. You and the Right 
Honourable Charles Gurnard are Dimensionists, 
and who are the others of your set? " 

"There is only one," she answered. And 
would you believe it! — ^it seems he was Fox, the 
editor of my new paper. 

" You select your characters with charming in- 




discriminateness," I said. " Fox is only a sort 
of toad, you know — he won't get far." 

" Oh, he'll go far," she answered, " but he 
won't get there. Fox is fighting against us." 

" Oh, so you don't dwell in amity? " I said, 
" You fight for your own hands." 

" We fight for our own hands," she answered, 
" I shall throw Gurnard over when he's pulled 
the chestnuts out of the fire." 

I was beginning to get a little tired of this. 
You see, for me, the scene was a veiled flirtation 
and I wanted to get on. But I had to listen to 
her fantastic scheme of things. It was really a 
duel between Fox, the Journal-founder, and Gur- 
nard, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Fox, 
with Churchill, the Foreign Minister, and his sup- 
porters, for pieces, played what he called " the 
Old Morality business " against Gurnard, who 
passed for a cynically immoral politician. 

I grew more impatient. I wanted to get out 

of this stage into something more personal. I 

thought she invented this sort of stuff to keep 

me from getting at her errand at Callan's. But 

I didn't want to know her errand; I wanted to 

make love to her. As for Fox and Gurnard and 



Churchill, the Foreign Minister, who really was 
a sympathetic character and did stand for po-* 
litical probity, she might be uttering allegorical 
truths, but I was not interested in them. I 
wanted to start some topic that would lead aWay 
from this Dimensionist farce. 

** My dear sister," I began. . . . Callan al- 
ways moved about like a confounded eavesdrop- 
per, wore carpet slippers, and stepped round the 
comers of screens. I expect he got copy like 

" So, she's your sister? " he said suddenly, from 
behind me. " Strange that you shouldn't recog- 
nise the handwriting. . . ." 

" Oh, we don't correspond," I said light-heart- 
edly, " we are so different." I wanted to take a 
rise out of the creeping animal that he was. He 
confronted her blandly. 

" You must be the little girl that I remember," 
he said. He had known my parents ages ago. 
That, indeed, was how I came to know him; I 
wouldn't have chosen him for a friend. " I 
thought Granger said you were dead . • . but 
one gets confused. . . ." 

" Oh, we see very little of each other," she an- 


swered. " Arthur might have said I was dead — 
he's capable of anything, you know." She spoke 
with an assumption of sisterly indifference that 
was absolutely striking. I began to think she 
must be an actress of genius, she did it so well 
She was the sister who had remained within the 
pale ; I, the rapscallion of a brother whose vaga- 
ries were trying to his relations. That was the 
note she struck, and she maintained it. I didn't 
know what the deuce she was driving at, and X 
didn't care. These scenes with a touch of mad- 
ness appealed to me. I was going to live, and 
here, apparently, was a woman ready to my hand. 
Besides, she was making a fool of Callan, and that 
pleased me. His patronising manners had irri- 
tated me. 

I assisted rather silently. They began to talk 
of mutual acquaintances — ^as one talks. They 
both seemed to know everyone in this world. 
She gave herself the airs of being quite in the 
inner ring ; alleged familiarity with quite impos- 
sible person^, with my portentous aunt, with 
Cabinet Ministers — ^that sort of people. They 
talked about them — she, as if she lived among 
them; he, as if he tried very hard to live up to 



She affected reverence for his person, plied him 
with compliments that he swallowed raw — ^hor- 
ribly raw. It made me shudder a little; it was 
tragic to see the little great man confronted with 
that woman. It shocked me to think that, really, 
I must appear much like him — must have looked 
like that yesterday. He was a little uneasy, I 
thought, made little confidences as if in spite of 
himself; little confidences about the Hour, the 
new paper for which I was engaged. It seemed 
to be run by a small gang with quite a number 
of assorted axes to grind. There was some for- 
eign financier — sl person of position whom she 
knew (a noble man in the best sense, Callan said) ; 
there was some politician (she knew him too, and 
he was equally excellent, so Callan said), Mr. 
Churchill himself, an artist or so, an actor or so 
— and Callan. They all wanted a little backing, 
so it seemed. Callan, of course, put it in another 
way. The Great — Moral — Purpose turned up, I 
don't know why. He could not think he was 
taking me in and she obviously knew more about 
the people concerned than he did. But there it 
was, looming large, and quite as farcical as all the 
rest of it. The foreign financier — ^they called him 



the Due de Mersch — was by way of being a 
philanthropist on megalomaniac lines. For some 
international reason he had been allowed to pos- 
sess himself of the pleasant land of Greenland. 
There wa3 gold in it and train-oil in it and other 
things that paid — ^but the Due de Mersch was 
not thinking of that. He was first and foremost 
a State Founder, or at least he was that after be- 
ing titular ruler of some little spot of a Teutonic 
grand-duchy. No one of the great powers would 
let any other of the great powers possess the 
country, so it had been handed over to the Due 
de Mersch, who had at heart, said Cal, the glori- 
ous vision of founding a model state — the model 
state, in which washed and broadclothed Esqui- 
maux would live, side by side, regenerated lives, 
enfranchised equals of choicely selected younger 
sons of whatever occidental race. It was that sort 
of thing. I was even a little overpowered, in 
spite of the fact that Callan was its trumpeter; 
there was something fine about the conception 
and Churchiirs acquiescence seemed to guarantee 
an honesty in its execution. 

The Due de Mersch wanted money, and he 
V^anted to run a railway across Greenland. His 



idea was that the British public should supply the 
money and the British Government back the rail- 
way^ as they did in the case of a less philanthropic 
Suez Canal. In return he offered an eligible har- 
bour and a strip of coast at one end of the line; 
the British public was to be repaid in casks of 
train-oil and gold and with the consciousness of 
having aided in letting the light in upon a dark 
spot of the earth. So the Due de Mersch started 
the Hour. The Hour was to extol the Due 
dc Mersch's moral purpose; to pat the Gov- 
ernment's back; influence public opinion; and 
generally advance the cause of the System for the 
Regeneration of the Arctic Regions. 

I tell the story rather flippantly, because I 
heard it from Callan, and because it was impos- 
sible to take him seriously. Besides, I was not 
very much interested in the thing itself. But it 
did interest me to see how deftly she pumped 
him — squeezed him dry. 

I was even a little alarmed for poor old Cal. 
After all, the man had done me a service; had 
got me a job. As for her, she struck me as a 
potentially dangerous person. One couldn't tell, 
she might be some adventuress, or if not that, a 



speculator who would damage Cal's little 
schemes. I put it to her plainly afterward; and 
quarreUed with her as well as I could. I drove her 
down to the station. Callan must have been dis- 
tinctly impressed or he would never have had out 
his trap for her. 

** You know/' I said to her, " I won't have you 
play tricks with Callan — ^not while you're using 
my name. It's very much at your service as far 
as I'm concerned — ^but, confound it, if you're 
going to injure him I shall have to show you up 
—to tell him." 

" You couldn't, you know," she said, perfectly 
calmly, "you've let yourself in for it. He 
wouldn't feel pleased with you for letting it go 
as far as it has. You'd lose your job, and you're 
going to live, you know — ^you're going to 
live. . . ." 

I was taken aback by this veiled threat in the 
midst of the pleasantry. It wasn't fair play — ^not 
at all fair play. I recovered some of my old alarm, 
remembered that she really was a dangerous per- 
son; that . . . 

But I sha'n't hurt Callan," she said, suddenly, 

you may make your mind easy." 




" You really won't? " I asked. 

" Really not/' she answered. It relieved me to 
believe her. I did not want to quarrel with her. 
You see, she fascinated me, she seemed to act as 
a stimulant, to set me tingling somehow — ^and 
to baffle me. . . . And there was truth in 
what she said. I had let myself in for it, and I 
didn't want to lose Callan's job by telling him 
I had made a fool of him. 

" I don't care about anything else," I said. 
She smiled. 



1WENT up to town bearing the Callan ar- 
ticle, and a letter of warm commendation from 
Callan to Fox. I had been very docile; had 
accepted emendations; had lavished praise, had 
been unctuous and yet had contrived to retain 
the dignified savour of the editorial "we." Cal- 
lan himself asked no more. 

I was directed to seek Fox out — ^to find him 
immediately. The matter was growing urgent. 
Fox was not at the office — the brand new office 
that I afterward saw pass through the succeed- 
ing stages of business-like comfort and dusty 
neglect. I was directed to ask for him at the 
stage door of the Buckingham. 

I waited in the doorkeeper's glass box at the 
Buckingham. I was eyed by the suspicious com* 
missionaire with the contempt reserved for rest- 
ing actors. Resting actors are hungry suppliants 
as a rule. Call-boys sought Mr. Fox. " Anybody 
seen Mr. Fox? He's gone to lunch." 



"Mr. Fox is out," said the commissionaire. 

I explained that the matter was urgent. More 
call-boys disappeared through the folding doors. 
Unenticing personages passed the glass box, 
casting hostile glances askance at me on my high 
stool. A message came back. 

" If it's Mr. Etchingham Granger, he's to fol- 
low Mr. Fox to Mrs. Hartly's at once.*' 

I followed Mr. Fox to Mrs. Hartly's — to a 
little flat in a neighbourhood that I need not 
specify. The eminent journalist was lunching 
with the eminent actress. A husband was in at- 
tendance --*- a nonentity with a heavy yellow 
moustache, who hummed and hawed over his 

Mr. Fox was full-faced, with a persuasive, per- 
emptory manner. Mrs. Hartly was— well, she 
was just Mrs. Hartly. You remember how we 
all fell in love with her figure and her manner, and 
her voice, and the way she used her hands. She 
broke her bread with those very hands; spoke 
to her husband with that very voice, and rose 
from table with that same graceful manage- 
ment of her limp skirts. She made eyes at me; 
at her husband; at little Fox, at the man who 



handed the asparagus — ^great round grey eyes. 
She was just the same. The curtain never fell on 
that eternal dress rehearsal. I don't wonder the 
husband was forever looking at his watch. 

Mr. Fox was a friend of the house. He dis- 
pensed with ceremony, read my manuscript over 
his Roquefort, and seemed to find it add to the 

" You are going to do me for Mr. Fox," Mrs. 
Hartly said, turning her large grey eyes upon 
me. They were very soft. They seemed to send 
out waves of intense sympatheticism. I thought 
of those others that had shot out a razor-edged 

" Why," I answered, " there was some talk of 
my dbing somebody for the Hour^ 

Fox put my manuscript imder his empty 

" Yes," he said, sharply. " He will do, I think. 
H'm, yes. Why, yes." 

" You're a friend of Mr. Callan's, aren't you? " 
Mrs. Hartly asked, " What a dear, nice man he 
is! You should see him at rehearsals. You 
know I'm doing his 'Boldero ' ; he's given me & 
perfectly lovely part — ^perfectly lovely. And the 



trouble he takes. He tries every chair on the 

"H'm; yes," Fox interjected, "he likes to 
have his own way." 

" We all like that," the great actress said. She 
was quoting from her first great part. I thought 
—but, perhaps, I was mistaken — ^that all her ut- 
terances were quotations from her first great part. 
Her husband looked at his watch. 

" Are you coming to this confounded flower 
show? " he asked. 

" Yes," she said, turning her mysterious eyes 
upon him, " I'll go and get ready." 

She disappeared through an inner door. I ex- 
pected to hear the pistol-shot and the heavy fall 
from the next room. I forgot that it was not the 
end of the fifth act. 

Fox put my manuscript into his breast pocket. 

" Come along, Granger," he said to me, " I 
want to speak to you. You'll have plenty of 
opportunity for seeing Mrs. Hartly, I expect. 
She's tenth on your list. Good-day, Hartly." 

Hartly's hand was wavering between his 
moustache and his watch pocket. 

" Good-day," he said sulkily. 



''You must come and see me again, Mn 
Granger," Mrs, Hartly said from the door. 
"Come to the Buckingham and see how we're 
getting on with your friend's play. We must 
have a good long talk if you're to get my local 
colour, as Mr. Fox calls it." 

*^ To gild refined gold ; to paint the lily. 
To throw a perfume on the violet ** 

I quoted banally. 

" That's it," she said, with a tender smile. She 
was fastening a button in her glove. I doubt her 
recognition of the quotation. 
When we were in our hansom. Fox began : 
" I'm relieved by what I've seen of your copy. 
One didn't expect this sort of thing from you. 
You think it a bit below you, don't you? Oh, 
I know, I know. You literary people are usually 
so impracticable; you know what I mean. Cal- 
lan said you were the man. Callan has his uses; 
but one has something else to do with one's 
paper. I've got interests of my own. But you'll 
do; it's all right. You don't mind my being 
candid, do you, now? " I muttered that I rather 
liked it. 



^' Well then/' he went on, " now I see my way." 

" I'm glad you do," I murmured. " I wish I 

" Oh, that will be all right," Fox comforted. 
" I dare say Callan has rather sickened you of 
the job; particularly if you ain't used to it. But 
you won't find the others as trying. There's 
Churchill now, he's your next. You'll have to 
mind him. You'll find him a decent chap. Not 
a bit of side on him." 

" What Churchill? " I asked. 

" The Foreign Minister." 

'^The devil," I said. 
Oh, you'll find him all right," Fox reassured; 

you're to go down to his place to-morrow. It's 
all arranged. Here we are. Hop out/' He 
suited his own action to his words and ran nimbly 
up the new terra-cotta steps of the Hour's home. 
He left me to pay the cabman. 

When I rejoined him he was giving direc- 
tions to an invisible somebody through folding 

" Come along," he said, breathlessly. " Can't 
see him," he added to a little boy, who held a card 
in his hands. ''Tell him to go to Mr. Evans. 




One's life isn't one's own here," he went on, 
ivhen he had reached his own room. 

It was a palatial apartment furnished in white 
and gold — Louis Quinze, or something of the 
sort — with very new decorations after Watteau 
covering the walls. The process of disfiguration, 
however, had already begun. A roll desk of the 
least possible Louis Quinze order stood in one of 
the tall windows ; the carpet was marked by muddy 
footprints, and a matchboard screen had been run 
across one end of the room. 

" Hullo, Evans," Fox shouted across it, " just 
see that man from Grant's, will you? Heard 
from the Central News yet? " 

He was looking through the papers on the 

" Not yet, I've just rung them up for the fifth 
time," the answer came. 

" Keep on at it," Fox exhorted. 

" Here's Churchill's letter," he said to me. 
** Have an arm-chair; those blasted things are 
too uncomfortable for anything. Make yourself 
comfortable. I'll be back in a minute." . 

I took an arm-chair and addressed myself to 
the Foreign Minister's letter. It expressed bored 



tolerance of a potential interviewer, but it seemed 
to please Fox. He ran into the room, snatched 
up a paper from his desk, and ran out again. 

" Read Churchill's letter? " he asked, in pass- 
ing. " ril tell you all about it in a minute." I 
don't know what he expected me to do with 
it— kiss the postage stamp, perhaps. 

At the same time, it was pleasant to sit there 
idle in the midst of the hurry, the breathlessness. 
I seemed to be at last in contact with real life, 
with the life that matters. I was somebody, too. 
Fox treated me with a kind of deference — ^as if I 
\vere a great unknown. His " you literary men '' 
was pleasing. It was the homage that the pre- 
tender pays to the legitimate prince; the recog- 
nition due to the real thing from the machine- 
made imitation; the homage of the builder to the 

" Ah, yes," it seemed to say, " we jobbing men 
run up our rows and rows of houses ; build whole 
towns and fill the papers for years. But when 
we want something special — ^something monu- 
mental — we have to come to you." 

Fox came in again. 

" Very sorry, my dear fellow, find I can't pos- 



sibly get a moment for a chat with you. Look 
here, come and dine with me at the Paragraph 
round the comer — to-night at six sharp. You'll 
go to Churchill's to-morrow." 

The Paragraph Club, where I was to meet Fox, 
was one of those sporadic establishments that 
spring up in the neighbourhood of the Strand. 
It is one of their qualities that they are always 
just round the corner; another, that their stew- 
ards are too familiar; another, that they — ^in the 
opinion of the other members — are run too much 
for the convenience of one in particular. 

In this case it was Fox who kept the dinner 
waiting. I sat in the little smoking-room and, 
from behind a belated morning paper, listened to 
the conversation of the three or four journalists 
who represented the members. I felt as a new 
boy in a new school feels on his first introduction 
to his fellows. 

There was a fossil dramatic critic sleeping in 
an arm-chair before the fire. At dinner-time he 
woke up, remarked : 

" You should have seen Fanny EUsler," and 
went to sleep again. 

Sprawling on a red velvet couch was a beau 



jcune homme, with the necktie of a Parisian- 
American student. On a chair beside him sat a 
personage whom, perhaps because of his plentiful 
lack of h's, I took for a distinguished foreigner. 

They were talking about a splendid subject for 
a music-hall dramatic sketch of some sort — ^af- 
forded by a bus driver, I fancy. 

I heard afterward that my Frenchman had 
been a costermonger and was now half journalist, 
half financier, and that my art student was an 
employee of one of the older magazines. 

" Dinner's on the table, gents,'' the steward 
said from the door. He went toward the sleeper 
by the fire. " I expect Mr. Cunningham will 
wear that arm-chair out before he's done," he said 
over his shoulder. 

" Poor old chap ; he's got nowhere else to go 
to," the magazine employee said. 

" Why doesn't he go to the work'ouse," the 
journalist financier retorted. " Make a good 
sketch that, eh? " he continued, reverting to his 

" Jolly ! " the magazine employee said, indiffer- 

Now, then, Mr. Cunningham," the steward 




said, touching the sleeper on the shoulder, " din- 
ner's on the table/' 

" God bless my soul," the dramatic critic said, 
with a start. The steward left the room. The 
dramatic critic furtively took a set of false teeth 
out of his waistcoat pocket; wiped them with a 
bandanna handkerchief, and inserted them in his 

He tottered out of the room. 

I got up and began to inspect the pen-and-ink 
sketches on the walls. 

The faded paltry caricatures of faded paltry 
lesser lights that confronted me from fly-blown 
frames on the purple walls almost made me 

" There you are. Granger," said a cheerful voice 
behind me. " Come and have some dinner." 

I went and had some dinner. It was seasoned 
by small jokes and little personalities. A Teu- 
tonic journalist, a musical critic, I suppose, in- 
quired as to the origin of the meagre pheasant. 
Fox replied that it had been preserved in the 
back-yard. The dramatic critic mumbled un- 
heard that some piece or other was off the bills 
of the Adelphi. I grinned vacantly. After- 



ward, under his breath. Fox put me up to a 
thing or two regarding the inner meaning of the 
new daily. Put by him, without any glamour of 
a moral purpose, the case seemed rather mean. 
The dingy smoking-room depressed me and the 
whole thing was, what I had, for so many years, 
striven to keep out of. Fpx hung over my ear, 
whispering. There were shades of intonation in 
his sibillating. Some of those " in it," the voice 
implied, were not above-board; others were, and 
the tone became deferential, implied that I was to 
take my tone from itself. 

" Of course, a man like the Right Honourable 
C. does it on the straight, . . . quite on the 
straight, . . . has to have some sort of semi- 
ofKcial backer. ... In this case, it's me, 
. . . the Hour. They're a bit spHtty, the 
Ministry, I mean. . . . They say Gurnard isn't 
playing square . . . they say so." His 
broad, red face glowed as he bent down to my ear, 
his little sea-blue eyes twinkled with moisture. 
He enlightened me cautiously, circumspectly. 
There was something unpleasant in the business 
— not exactly in Fox himself, but the kind of 
thing. I wish he would cease his explanations — I 



didn't want to hear them. I have never wanted 
to know how things are worked; preferring to 
take the world at its face value. Callan's revela- 
tions had been bearable, because of the farcical 
pompousness of his manner. But this was differ- 
ent, it had the stamp of truth, perhaps because it 
was a little dirty. I didn't want to hear that the 
Foreign Minister was ever so remotely mixed up 
in this business. He was only a symbol to me, 
but he stood for the stability of statesmanship and 
for the decencies that it is troublesome to Jiave 

" Of course," he was proceeding, " the Church- 
ill gang would like to go on playing the 
stand-off to us. But it won't do, they've got to 
come in or see themselves left. Gurnard has 
pretty well nobbled their old party press, so 
they've got to begin all over again." 

That was it — that was precisely it. Churchill 
ought to have played the stand-off to people like 
us — to have gone on playing it at whatever cost. 
That was what I demanded of the world as I con- 
ceived it. It was so much less troublesome in 
that way. On the other hand, this was life — I 
was living now and the cost of living is disillu- 



sionment ; it was the price I had to pay. Obvious- 
ly, a Foreign Minister had to have a semi-official 
organ, or I supposed so. . . . " Mind you," Fox 
whispered on, " I think myself, that it's a pity 
he is supporting the Greenland business. The 
thing's not altogether straight. But it's going to 
be made to pay like hell, and there's the national 
interest to be considered. If this Government 
didn't take it up, some other would — ^and that 
would give Gurnard and a lot of others a peg 
against Churchill and his. We can't afford to 
lose any more coaling stations in Greenland or 
anywhere else. And, mind you, Mr. C. can look 
after the interests of the niggers a good deal bet- 
ter if he's a hand in tlie pie. You see the position, 

I wasn't actually listening to him, but I nodded 
at proper intervals. I knew that he wanted me 
to take that line in confidential conversations 
with fellows seeking copy. I was quite resigned 
to that. Incidentally, I was overcome by the 
conviction — ^perhaps it was no more than a sen- 
sation — that that girl was mixed up in this thing, 
that her shadow was somewhere among trfe^ 
others flickering upon the sheet. I wanted to 




ask Fox if he knew her. But, then, in that ab- 
surd business, I did not even know her name, 
and the whole story would have sounded a little 
mad. Just now, it suited me that Fox should 
have a moderate idea of my sanity. Besides, the 
thing was out of tone, I idealised her then. One 
wouldn't talk about her in a smoking-room full 
of men telling stories, and one wouldn't talk 
about her at all to Fox. 

The musical critic had been prowling about the 
room with Fox's eyes upon him. He edged sud- 
denly nearer, pushed a chair aside, and came 
^ toward us. 

" Hullo," he said, in an ostentatiously genial, 
after-dinner voice, " what are you two chaps 
a-talking about? " 

" Private matters," Fox answered, without 
moving a hair. 

" Then I suppose I'm in the way? " the other 
muttered. Fox did not answer. 

" Wants a job," he said, watching the discom- 
fited Teuton's retreat, " but, as I was saying— oh, 
it pays both ways." He paused and fixed his eyes 
on me. He had been explaining the financial 
details of the matter, in which the Due de Mersch 




and Callan and Mrs. Hartly and all these people 
clubbed together and started a paper which they 
hired Fox to run, which was to bring their money 
back again^ which was to scratch their backs, 
which ... It was like the house that Jack 
built; I wondered who Jack was. That was it, 
who was Jack? It all hinged upon that. 
" Why, yes," I said. " It seems rather neat." 
" Of course," Fox wandered on, " you are won- 
dering why the deuce I tell you all this. Fact 
is, you'd hear it all if I didn't, and a good deal 
more that isn't true besides. But I believe you're 
the sort of chap to respect a confidence." 

I didn't rise to the sentiment. I knew as well 
as he did that he was bamboozling me, that he 
was, as he said, only telling me — not the truth, 
but just what I should hear everywhere. I did 
not bear him any ill-will ; it was part of the game, 
that. But the question was, who was Jack? It 
might be Fox himself . . . There might, after 
all, be some meaning in the farrago of nonsense 
that that fantastic girl had let off upon me. Fox 
really and in a figure of speech such as she al- 
lowed herself, might be running a team consists 
ing of the Due de Mersch and Mr. Churchill. 



He might really be backing a foreign, philan- 
thropic ruler and State-founder, and a British 
Foreign Minister, against the rather sinister 
Chancellor of the Exchequer that Mr. Gurnard 
undoubtedly was. It might suit him; perhaps he 
had shares in something or other that depended 
on the success of the Due de Mersch's Greenland 
Protectorate. I knew well enough, you must 
remember, that Fox was a big man — one of 
those big men that remain permanently behind 
the curtain, perhaps because they have a certain 
lack of con:ieliness of one sort or another and 
don't look well on the stage itself. And I un- 
derstood now that if he had abandoned — ^as he 
had done — ^half a dozen enterprises of his own 
for the sake of the Hour, it must be because it 
was very well worth his while. It was not merely 
a question of the editorship of a paper; there 
was something very much bigger in the back- 
ground. My Dimensionist young lady, again, 
might have other shares that depended on the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer's blocking the way. 
In that way she might very well talk allegorically 
of herself as in alliance with Gurnard against Fox 
and Churchill. I was at sea in that sort of thing 



— ^but I understood vaguely that something of 
the sort was remotely possible. 

I didn't feel called upon to back out of it on 
that account, yet I very decidedly wished that the 
thing could have been otherwise. For myself, 
I came into the matter with clean hands — ^and I 
was going to keep my hands clean ; otherwise, I 
was at Fox's disposal. 

" I understand," I said, the speech marking 
my decision, " I shall have dealings with a good 
many of the proprietors — I am the scratcher, in 
fact, and you don't want me to make a fool of 

" Well," he answered, gauging me with his 
blue, gimlet eyes, " it's just as well to know." 

" It's just as well to know," I echoed. It was 
just as well to know. 



I HAD gone out into the blackness of the 
night with a firmer step, with a new assur- 
ance. I had had my interview, the thing 
was definitely settled; the first thing in my life 
that had ever been definitely settled; and I felt 
I must tell Lea before I slept. Lea had helped 
me a good deal in the old days — ^he had helped 
everybody, for that matter. You would probably 
find traces of Lea's influence in the beginnings of 
every writer of about my decade; of everybody 
who ever did anything decent, and of some who 
never got beyond the stage of burgeoning de- 
cently. He had given me the material help that 
a publisher's reader could give, until his profes- 
sional reputation was endangered, and he had 
given me the more valuable help that so few can 
give. I had grown ashamed of this one-sided 
friendship. It was, indeed, partly because of 
that that I had taken to the wilds — to a hut 
near a wood, and all the rest of what now seemed 



youthful foolishness. I had desired to live alone, 
not to be helped any more, until I could make 
sofne return. As a natural result I had lost nearly 
all my friends and found myself standing there as 
naked as on the day I was born. 

All around me stretched an immense town — ^an 
immense blackness. People — ^thousands of peo- 
ple hurried past me, had errands, had aims, had 
others to talk to, to trifle with. But I had no- 
body. This immense city, this immense black- 
ness, had no interiors for me. There were house 
fronts, staring windows, closed doors, but noth- 
ing within; no rooms, no hollow places. The 
houses meant nothing to me, nothing more than 
the solid earth. Lea remained the only one the 
thought of whom was not like the reconsidera- 
tion of an ancient, a musty pair of gloves. 

He lived just anywhere. Being a publisher's 
reader, he had to report upon the probable com- 
mercial value of the manuscripts that unknown 
authors sent to his employer, and I suppose he 
had a settled plan of life, of the sort that brought 
him within the radius of a given spot at appar- 
ently irregular, but probably ordered, intervals. 
It seemed to be no more than a piece of good 



luck that let me find him that night in a little 
room in one of the by-ways of Bloomsbury. He 
was sprawling angularly on a cane lounge, sur- 
rounded by whole rubbish heaps of manuscript, 
a grey scrawl in a foam of soiled paper. He 
peered up at me as I stood in the doorway. 

" Hullo! " he said, ** what's brought you here? 
Have a manuscript? " He waved an abstracted 
hand round him. "You'll find a chair some- 
where." A claret bottle stood on the floor be- 
side him. He took it by the neck and passed it 
to mc 

He bent his head again and continued his read- 
mg. I displaced three bulky folio sheaves of 
typewritten matter from a chair and seated myself 
behind him. He continued to read. 

" I hadn't seen these rooms before," I said, for 
want o£ something to say. 

The room was not so much scantily as ar- 
bitrarily furnished. It contained a big mahogany 
sideboard ; a common deal table, an extraordinary 
kind of folding wash-hand-stand; a deal book- 
shelf, the cane lounge, and three unrelated chairs. 
There were three framed Dutch prints on the 
marble mantel-shelf; striped curtains before the 



windows. A square, cheap looking-glass, with 
a razor above it, hung between them. And on 
the floor, on the chairs, on the sideboard, on the 
unmade bed, the profusion of manuscripts. 

He scribbled something on a blue paper and 
began to roll a cigarette. He took off his glasses^ 
rubbed them, and closed his eyes tightly. 

" Well, and how's Sussex? " he asked. 

I felt a sudden attack of what, essentially, was 
nostalgia. The fact that I was really leaving an 
old course of life, was actually and finally break- 
ing with it, became vividly apparent. Lea, you 
see, stood for what was best in the mode of 
thought that I was casting aside. He stood for 
the aspiration. The brooding, the moodiness; 
all the childish qualities, were my own importa- 
tions. I was a little ashamed to tell him, that — 
that I was going to live, in fact. Some of the 
glory of it had gone, as if one of two candles I 
had been reading by had flickered out. But I 
told him, after a fashion, that I had got a job 
at last. 

" Oh, I congratulate you," he said. 

" You see," I began to combat the objections 
he had not had time to utter, " even for my 



work it will be a good thing — I wasn't seeing 
enough of life to be able to , • . " 

" Oh, of course not," he answered — " it'll be a 
good thing. You must have been having a pretty 
bad time." 

It struck me as abominably unfair. I hadn't 
taken up with the Hour because I was tired of 
having a bad time, but for other reasons: be- 
cause I had felt my soul being crushed within 

" You're mistaken," I said. And I explained. 
He answered, " Yes, yes," but I fancied that 
he was adding to himself — " They all say that." 
I grew more angry. Lea's opinion formed, to 
some extent, the background of my life. For 
many years I had been writing quite as much to 
satisfy him as to satisfy myself, and his coldness 
chilled me. He thought that my heart was hot 
in my work, and I did not want Lea to think 
that of me. I tried to explain as much to him — 
but it was difficult, and he gave me no help. 

I knew there had been others that he had 
fostered, only to see them, in the end, drift into 
the back-wash. And now he thought I was go- 
ing too « • . 



" Here/' he said, suddenly breaking away from 
the subject, " look at that." 

He threw a heavy, ribbon-bound mass of mat- 
ter into my lap, and recommenced writing his 
report upon its saleability as a book. He was of 
opinion that it was too delicately good to attract 
his employer's class of readers. I began to read 
it to get rid of my thoughts. The heavy black 
handwriting of the manuscript sticks in my 
mind's eye. It must have been good, but prob- 
ably not so good as I then thought it — I have 
entirely forgotten all about it; otherwise, I re- 
member that we argued afterward: I for its pub* 
lication; he against. I was thinking of the 
wretched author whose fate hung in the balance. 
He became a pathetic possibility, hidden in the 
heart of the white paper that bore pen-markings 
of a kind too good to be marketable. There was 
something appalling in Lea's careless — " Oh, it's 
too good ! " He was used to it, but as for me, in 
arguing that man's case I suddenly became aware 
that I was pleading my own — pleading the case 
of my better work. Everything that Lea said 
of this work, of this man, applied to my work; and 
to myself. " There's no market for that sort of 



thing, no public; this book's been all round the 
trade. I've had it before. The man will never 
come to the front. He'll take to inn-keeping, 
and that will finish him off." That's what he 
said, and he seemed to be speaking of me. Some 
one was knocking at the door of the room — ^ten- 
tative knocks of rather flabby knuckles. It was 
one of those sounds that one does not notice im- 
mediately. The man might have been knocking 
for ten minutes. It happened to be Lea's em- 
ployer, the publisher of my first book. He 
opened the door at last, and came in rather per- 
emptorily. He had the air of having worked 
himself into a temper— of being intellectually 
rather afraid of Lea, but of being, for this occa- 
sion, determined to assert himself. 

The introduction to myself — I had never met 
him — which took place after he had hastily 
brought out half a sentence or so, had the effect 
of putting him out of his stride, but, after hav- 
ing remotely acknowledged the possibility of my 
existence, he began again. 

The matter was one of some delicacy. I 
myself should have hesitated to broach it before 
a third party, even one so negligible as myseli 



But Mr. Polehampton apparently did not. He 
had to catch the last post. 

Lea, it appeared, had advised him to publish 
a manuscript by a man called Howden — ^ mod- 
erately known writer. . . . 

" But I am disturbed to find, Mr. Lea, that is, 
my daughter tells me that the manuscript is 
not . . . is not at all the thing. ... In 
fact, it's quite — ^and — eh . • * I suppose it's 
too late to draw back? " 

" Oh, it's altogether too late for that/' Lea said, 
nonchalantly, " Besides, Howden's theories al- 
ways sell." 

" Oh, yes, of course, of course," Mr. Polehamp- 
ton interjected, hastily, " but don't you think 
now ... I mean, taking into consideration 
the damage it may do our reputation . . . 
that we ought to ask Mr. Howden to accept, say 
fifty pounds less than. . . ." 

" I should think it's an excellent idea," Lea 
said. Mr. Polehampton glanced at him sus- 
piciously, then turned to me. 

" You see," he began to explain, " one has to 
be so careful about these things." 

" Oh, I can quite understand," I answered. 
There was something so naive in the man's point 




of view that I had felt my heart go out to him. 
And he had taught me at last how it is that the 
godly grow fat at the expense of the unrighteous. 
Mr. Polehampton, however, was not fat. He 
was even rather thin, and his peaked grey hair, 
though it was actually well brushed, looked as 
if it ought not to have been. He had even an 
anxious expression. People said he speculated in 
some stock or other, and I should say they were 

" I , . . eh . . . believe I published 
your first book ... I lost money by it, but 
I can assure you that I bear no grudge — almost 
a hundred pounds. I bear no grudge . , . " 

The man was an original. He had no idea that 
I might feel insulted; indeed, he really wanted 
to be pleasant, and condescending, and forgiving. 
I didn't feel insulted. He was too big for his 
clothes, gave that impression at least, and he wore 
black kid gloves. Moreover, his eyes never left 
the cornice of the room. I saw him rather often 
after that night, but never without his gloves 
and never with his eyes lowered. 

" And ... eh ..." he asked, " what 
are you doing now, Mr. Granger? " 

Lea told him Fox had taken me up; that I 



was going to go. I suddenly remembered it was 
said of Fox that everyone he took up did " go." 
The fact was obviously patent to Mr. Polehamp- 
ton. He unbent with remarkable suddenness; it 
reminded me of the abrupt closing of a stiff um- 
brella. He became distinctly and crudely cordial 
— hoped that we should work together again; 
once more reminded me that he had published 
my first book (the words had a different savour 
now), and was enchanted to discover that we 
were neighbours in Sussex. My cottage was 
within four miles of his villa, and we were mem- 
bers of the same golf club. 

" We must have a game — several games," he 
said. He struck me as the sort of man to find 
a difficulty in getting anyone to play with him. 

After that he went away. As I had said, I did 
not dislike him — he was pathetic; but his tone 
of mind, his sudden change of front, unnerved me. 
It proved so absolutely that I was " going to go," 
and I did not want to go — in that sense. The 
thing is a little difficult to explain, I wanted to 
take the job because I wanted to have money — 
for a little time, for a year or so, but if I once 
began to go, the temptation would be strong to 



keep on going, and I was by no means sure that 
I should be able to resist the temptation. So 
many others had failed. What if I wrote to Fox, 
and resigned? . . . Lea was deep in a manu- 
script once more. 

" Shall I throw it up? " I asked suddenly. I 
wanted the thing settled. 

" Oh, go on with it, by all means go on with it," 
Lea answered. 

" And . . . ? " I postulated. 

" Take your chance of the rest," he supplied; 
" you've had a pretty bad time." 

" I suppose," I reflected, " if I haven't got the 
strength of mind to get out of it in time, I'm not 
up to much." 

"There's that, too," he commented, "the 
game may not be worth the candle." I was 
silent. " You must take your chance when you 
get it," he added. 

He had resumed his reading, but he looked up 
again when I gave way, as I did after a moment's 

" Of course," he said, " it will probably be all 
right. You do your best. It's a good thing 
. . . might even do you good." 



In that way the thing went through. As I was 
leaving the room, the idea occurred to me, " By 
the way, you don't know anything of a clique: 
the Dimensionists — Fourth Dimensionists? " 

" Never heard of them,'* he negatived. 
"What's their specialty?'* 

** They're going to inherit the earth," I an- 

" Oh, I wish them joy," he closed. 

" You don't happen to be one yourself? I be- 
lieve it's a sort of secret society." He wasn't 
listening. I went out quietly. 

The night effects of that particular neighbour- 
hood have always affected me dismally. That 
night they upset me, upset me in much the same 
way, acting on much the same nerves as the valley 
in which I had walked with that puzzling girl. 
I remembered that she had said she stood for the 
future, that she was a symbol of my own decay 
— the whole silly farrago, in fact. I reasoned 
with myself — that I was tired, out of trim, and 
so on, that I was in a fit state to be at the mercy 
of any nightmare. I plunged into Southampton 
Row. There was safety in the contact with the 
crowd, in jostling, in being jostled. 



T was Saturday and, as was his custom during 
the session, the Foreign Secretary had gone 
for privacy and rest till Monday to a small 
country house he had within easy reach of town. 
I went down with a letter from Fox in my pocket, 
and early in the afternoon found myself talking 
without any kind of inward disturbance to the 
Minister's aunt, a lean, elderly lady, with a keen 
eye, and credited with a profound knowledge of 
European politics. She had a rather abrupt man- 
ner and a business-like, brown scheme of colora* 
tion. She looked people very straight in the face, 
bringing to bear all the penetration which, as 
rumour said, enabled her to take a hidden, but 
very real part in the shaping of our foreign policy. 
She seemed to catalogue me, label me, and lay 
me on the shelf, before I had given my first an- 
swer to her first question. 

" You ought to know this part of the country 
well," she said. I think she was considering me 



as a possible canvasser — ^an infinitesimal thing, 
but of a kind possibly worth remembrance at the 
next General Election. 
" No," I said, " I've never been here before/' 
" Etchingham is only three miles away." 
It was new to me to be looked upon as worth 
consideration for my place-name. I realised that 
Miss Churchill accorded me toleration on its ac- 
count, that I was regarded as one of the Grangers 
of Etchingham, who had taken to literature. 

" I met your aunt yesterday," Miss Churchill 
continued. She had met everybody yesterday. 

" Yes," I said, non-committally. I wondered 
what had happened at that meeting. My aunt 
and I had never been upon terms. She was a 
great personage in her part of the world, a great 
dowager land-owner, as poor as a mouse, and as 
respectable as a hen. She was, moreover, a keen 
politician on the side of Miss Churchill. I, who 
am neither landowner, nor respectable, nor poli- 
tician, had never been acknowledged — ^but I knew 
that, for the sake of the race, she would have 
refrained from enlarging on my shortcomings. 

** Has she found a companion to suit her yet ? " 
I said, absent-mindedly. I was thinking of an old 



legend of my mother's. Miss Churchill looked 
me in between the eyes again. She was prepar- 
ing to relabel me, I think. I had become a spite- 
ful humourist. Possibly I might be useful for 
platform malice. 

" Why, yes,*' she said, the faintest of twinkles 
in her eyes, " she has adopted a niece." 

The legend went that, at a hotly contested elec- 
tion in which my aunt had played a prominent 
part, a rainbow poster had beset the walls. 
" Who starved her governess? " it had inquired. 

My accidental reference to such electioneering 
details placed me upon an excellent footing with 
Miss Churchill. I seemed quite imawares to 
have asserted myself a social equal, a person not 
to be treated as a casual journalist. I became, 
in fact, not the representative of the Hour — 
but an Etchingham Granger that competitive 
forces had compelled to accept a journalistic plum. 
I began to see the line I was to take throughout 
my interviewing campaign. On the one hand, 
I was " one of us," who had temporarily strayed 
beyond the pale; on the other, I was to be a 
sort of great author's bottle-holder. 

A side door, behind Miss Churchill, opened 



gently. There was something very characteris- 
tic in the tentative manner of its coming ajar. 
It seemed 'to say: "Why any noisy vigour?" 
It seemed to be propelled by a contemplative 
person with many things on his mind. A tall, 
grey man in the doorway leaned the greater part 
of his weight on the arm that was stretched down 
to the handle. He was looking thoughtfully 
at a letter that he held in his other hand. A 
face familiar enough in caricatures suddenly grew 
real to me — more real than the face of one's near- 
est friends, yet older than one had any wish 
to expect. It was as if I had gazed more intently 
than usual at the face of a man I saw daily; and 
had found him older and greyer than he had 
ever seemed before — ^as if I had begun to realise 
that the world had moved on. 

He said, languidly — almost protestingly, 
" What am I to do about the Due de Mersch? " 

Miss Churchill turned swiftly, almost appre- 
hensively, toward him. She uttered my name 
and he gave the slightest of starts of annoyance 
— 2l start that meant, " Why wasn't I warned be- 
fore? " This irritated me; I knew well enough 
what were his relations with de Mersch, and the 



man took me for a little eavesdropper, I suppose. 
His attitudes were rather grotesque, of the sort 
that would pass in a person of his eminence. He 
stuck his eye-glasses on the end of his nose, 
looked at me short-sightedly, took them off and 
looked again. He had the air of looking down 
from an immense height — of needing a telescope. 

" Oh, ah . • . Mrs. Granger's son, I pre- 
sume. ... I wasn't aware . . . " The 
hesitation of his manner made me feel as if we 
never should get anywhere — not for years and 

" No," I said, rather brusquely, " I'm only 
from the Hour" 

He thought me one of Fox's messengers then, 
said that Fox might have written: " Have saved 
you the trouble, I mean . . . or . . ." 

He had the air of wishing to be amiable, of 
wishing, even, to please me by proving that he 
was aware of my identity. 

" Oh," I said, a little loftily, " I haven't any 
message, I've only come to interview you." An 
expression of dismay sharpened the lines of his 

"To • . .'' he began, " but I've never al- 



lowed — " He recovered himself sharply, and 
set the glasses vigorously on his nose; at last he 
had found the right track. " Oh, I remember 
now," he said, "I hadn't looked at it in that 

The whole thing grated on my self-love and 
I became, in a contained way, furiously angry. 
I was impressed with the idea that the man was 
only a puppet in the hands of Fox and de Mersch, 
and that lot. And he gave himself these airs 
of enormous distance. I, at any rate, was clean- 
handed in the matter; I hadn't any axe to grind. 

" Ah, yes," he said, hastily, " you are to draw 
my portrait — as Fox put it. He sent me your 
Jenkins sketch. I read it — it struck a very nice 
note. And so — ." He sat himself down on a 
preposterously low chair, his knees on a level with 
his chin. I muttered that I feared he would find 
the process a bore. 

" Not more for me than for you," he answered* 
seriously — " one has to do these things." 

" Why, yes," I echoed, " one has to do these 
things." It struck me that he regretted it — ^re- 
gretted it intensely; that he attached a bitter 
meaning to the words. 



"And . . . what is the procedure?" he 
asked, after a pause. " I am new to the sort of 
thing/* He had the air, I thought, of talking 
to some respectable tradesman that one calls in 
only when one is in extremis — to a distinguished 
pawnbroker, a man quite at the top of a tree 
of inferior timber. 

" Oh, for the matter of that, so am I," I an- 
swered. " I'm supposed to get your atmosphere, 
as Callan put it." 

" Indeed," he answered, absently, and then, 
after a pause, " You know Gallan? " I was afraid 
I should fall in his estimation. 

" One has to do these things," I said; " Fve 
just been getting his atmosphere." 

He looked again at the letter in his hand, 
smoothed his necktie and was silent. I realised 
that I was in the way, but I was still so disturbed 
that I forgot how to phrase an excuse for a mo- 
mentary absence. 

" Perhaps, . . . " I began. 

He looked at me attentively. 

" I mean, I think Fm in the way," I blurted 

Well," he answered, "it's quite a small 




matter. But, if you are to get my atmosphere, 
we may as well begin out of doors." He hesi- 
tated, pleased with his witticism; " Unless you're 
tired," he added. 

" I will go and get ready," I said, as if I were 
a lady with bonnet-strings to tie. I was con- 
ducted to my room, where I kicked my heels 
for a decent interval. When I descended, Mr. 
Churchill was lounging about the room with his 
hands in his trouser-pockets and his head hanging 
limply over his chest. He said, "Ah!" on 
seeing me, as if he had forgotten my existence. 
He paused for a long moment, looked medita- 
tively at himself in the glass over the fire- 
place, and then grew brisk. '" Come along," he 

We took a longish walk through a lush home- 
country meadow land. We talked about a num- 
ber, of things, he opening the ball with that in- 
fernal Jenkins sketch. I was in the stage at 
which one is sick of the thing, tired of the bare 
idea of it — and Mr. Churchill's laboriously kind 
phrases made the matter no better. 

" You know who Jenkins stands for? " I asked. 
I wanted to get away on the side issues. 



*' Oh, I guessed it was '' he answered. 

They said that Mr. Churchill was an enthusiast 
for the school of painting of which Jenkins was 
the last exponent. He began to ask questions 
about him. Did he still paint? Was he even 

*' I once saw several of his pictures," he re- 
flected. " His work certainly appealed to me 
. . . yes, it appealed to me. I meant at the 
time . • . but one forgets; there are so 
many things." It seemed to me that the man 
wished by these detached sentences to convey 
that he had the weight of a kingdom — of several 
kingdoms— on his mind ; that he could spare no 
more than a fragment of his thoughts for every- 
day use. 

" You must take me to see him," he said, sud- 
denly. " I ought to have something." I thought 
of poor white-haired Jenkins, and of his long 
struggle with adversity. It seemed a little cruel 
that Churchill should talk in that way without 
meaning a word of it — as if the words were a 
polite formality. 

"Nothing would delight me more," I an- 
sweredy and added, " nothing in the world." 



He asked me if I had seen such and such a pict- 
ure, talked of artists, and praised this and that 
man very fittingly, but with a certain timidity — 
a timidity that lured me back to my normally 
overbearing frame of mind. In such matters I 
was used to hearing my own voice. I could talk 
a man down, and, with a feeling of the unfitness 
of things, I talked Churchill down. The position, 
even then, struck me as gently humorous. It 
was as if some infinitely small animal were bully- 
ing some colossus among the beasts. I was of 
no account in the world, he had his say among 
the Olympians. And I talked recklessly, like any 
little school-master, and he swallowed it. 

We reached the broad market-place of a little, 
red and grey, home county town; a place of but 
one street dominated by a great inn-signboard 
a-top of an enormous white post. The effigy of 
So-and-So of gracious memory swung lazily, 
creaking, overhead. 

" This is Etchingham," Churchill said. 

It was a pleasant commentary on the course of 
time, this entry into the home of my ancestors. 
I had been without the pale for so long, that I 
had never seen the haunt of ancient peace. They 



had done very little, the Grangers of Etching- 
ham — never anything but live at Etchingham and 
quarrel at Etchingham and die at Etchingham 
and be the monstrous important Grangers of 
Etchingham. My father had had the undesirable 
touch, not of the genius, but of the Bohemian. 
The Grangers of Etchingham had cut him adrift 
and he had swum to sink in other seas. Now I 
was the last of the Grangers and, as things went, 
was quite the best known of all of them. They 
had grown poor in their generation; they bade 
fair to sink, even as, it seemed, I bade fair to rise, 
and I had come back to the old places on the arm 
of one of the great ones of the earth. I wondered 
what the portentous old woman who ruled alone 
in Etchingham thought of these times — ^the por- 
tentous old woman who ruled, so they said, the 
place with a rod of iron; who made herself un- 
bearable to her companions and had to fall back 
upon an unfortunate niece. I wondered idly who 
the niece could be; certainly not a Granger of 
Etchingham, for I was the only one of the breeds 
One of her own nieces, most probably. Churchill 
had gone into the post-office, leaving me stand- 
ing at the foot of the sign-post. It was a pleas- 



ant summer day, the air very clear, the place very 
slumbrous. I looked up the street at a pair of 
great stone gate-posts, august, in their way, 
standing distinctly aloof from the common houses, 
a little weather-stained, staidly Uchened. At the 
top of each column sat a sculptured wolf — ^as far 
as I knew, my own crest. It struck me pleas- 
antly that this must be the entrance of the Manor 

The tall iron gates swung inward, and I saw 
a girl on a bicycle curve out, at the top of the 
sunny street. She glided, very clear, small, and 
defined, against the glowing wall, leaned aslant 
for the turn, and came shining down toward 
me. My heart leapt; she brought the whole 
thing into composition — the whole of that slum- 
brous, sunny street. The bright sky fell back 
into place, the red roofs, the blue shadows, the 
red and blue of the sign-board, the blue of the 
pigeons walking round my feet, the bright red of 
a postman's cart. She was gliding toward me, 
growing and growing into the central figure. 
She descended and stood close to me. 

"You?" I said. "What blessed chance 
brought you here? " 



" Oh, I am your aunt's companion/* she an* 
swered, " her niece, you know." 

" Then you mtist be a cousin," I said. 

" No; sister," she corrected, " I assure you it's 
sister. Ask anyone — ^ask your aunt." I was 
braced into a state of puzzled buoyancy. 

" But really, you know," I said. She was smil- 
ing, standing up squarely to me, leaning a little 
back, swaying her machine with the motion of 
her body. 

" It's a little ridiculous, isn't it? " she said. 

" Very," I answered, " but even at that, I don't 
see — And I'm not phenomenally dense." 

" Not phenomenally," she answered, 

" Considering that I'm not a — ^not a Dimen- 
sionist, " I bantered. " But you have really 
palmed yourself off on my aunt? " 

" Really," she answered, " she doesn't know 
any better. She believes in me immensely. I 
am such a real Granger, there never was a more 
typical one. And we shake our heads together 
over you," My bewilderment was infinite, but 
it stopped short of being unpleasant. 

"Might I call on my aunt?" I asked. "It 
wouldn't interfere " 



" Oh, it wouldn't interfere,*' she said, " but we 
leave for Paris to-morrow. We are very busy. 
We — ^that is, my aunt; I am too young ao^ too, 
too discreet — ^have a little salon where we hatch 
plots against half the regimes in Europe. You 
have no idea how Legitimate we are." 

" I don't understand in the least," I said; " not 
in the least." 

" Oh, you must take me literally if you want 
to understand," she answered, " and you won't 
do that. I tell you plainly that I find my account 
in unsettled states, and that I am unsettling 
them. Everywhere. You will see." 

She spoke with her monstrous dispassionate- 
ness, and I felt a shiver pass down my spine, very 
distinctly. I was thinking what she might do if 
ever she became in earnest, and if ever I chanced 
to stand in her way — as her husband, for example. 

" I wish you would talk sense — for one blessed 
minute," I said; " I want to get things a little 
settled in my mind." 

" Oh, I'll talk sense," she said, " by the hour, 
but you won't listen. Take your friend, Churchill, 
now. He's the man that we're going to bring 
down. I mentioned it to you, and so ... " 



" But this is sheer madness/' I answered. 

*' Oh, no, it's a bald statement of fact," she went 

" I don't see how," I said, involuntarily. 

" Your article in the Hour will help. Every 
trifle will help," she said. "Things that you 
understand and others that you cannot. . . . 
He is identifying himself with the Due de Mersch. 
That looks nothing, but it's fatal. There will be 
friendships . . . and desertions." 

" Ah! " I said. I had had an inkling of this, 
and it made me respect her insight into home 
politics. She must have been alluding to Gur- 
nard, whom everybody — ^perhaps from fear — 
pretended to trust. She looked at me and 
smiled again. It was still the same smile; she 
was not radiant to-day and pensive to-morrow. 
"Do you know I don't like to hear that?" I 

" Oh, there's irony in it, and pathos, and that 
sort of thing," she said, with the remotest chill 
of mockery in her intonation. " He goes into it 
clean-handed enough and he only half likes it. 
But he sees that it's his last chance. It's not that 
he's worn out — ^but he feels that his time has 



come — unless he does something. And so he's 
going to do something. You understand? " 

" Not in the least," I said, light-heartedly. 

" Oh, it's the System for the Regeneration of 
the Arctic Regions — ^the Greenland affair of my 
friend de Mersch. Churchill is going to make a 
grand coup with that — ^to keep himself from slip- 
ping down hill, and, of course, it would add im- 
mensely to your national prestige. And he only 
half sees what de Mersch is or isn't" 

** This is all Greek to me," I muttered rebel- 

" Oh, I know, I kiiow," she said. " But one 
has to do these things, and I want you to under- 
stand. So Churchill doesn't like the whole 
business. But he's under the shadow. He's been 
thinking a good deal lately that his day is over — 
ril prove it to you in a minute — and so— oh, he's 
going to make a desperate effort to get in touch 
with the spirit of the times that he doesn't like 
and doesn't understand. So he lets you get his 
atmosphere. That's all." 

" Oh, that's a//," I said, ironically. 

** Of course he'd have liked to go on playing 
the stand-off to chaps like you and me," she 



mimicked the tone and words of Fox him- 

" This is witchcraft," I said. " How in the 
world do you know what Fox said to me? '* 

" Oh, I know," she said. It seemed to me 
that she was playing me with all this nonsense 
— ^as if she must have known that I had a tender- 
ness for her and were fooling me to the top of 
her bent. I tried to get my hook in. 

" Now look here," I said, " we must get things 
settled. You ..." 

She carried the speech off from under my nose. 

" Oh, you won't denounce me," she said, " not 
any more than you did before ; there are so many 
reasons. There would be a scene, and you're 
afraid of scenes — ^and our aunt would back me 
up. She'd have to. My money has been reviv- 
ing the glories of the Grangers. You can see, 
they've been regilding the gate." 

I looked almost involuntarily at the tall iron 
gates through which she had passed into my 
view. It was true enough — ^some of the scroll 
work was radiant with new gold. 

" Well," I said, " I will give you credit for not 
wishing to — ^to prey upon my aunt. But still 



. . . *' I was trying to make the thing out. 
It struck me that she was an American of the 
kind that subsidizes households like that of Etch- 
ingham Manor. Perhaps my aunt had even 
forced her to take the family name, to save ap- 
pearances. The old woman was capable of any- 
thing, even of providing an obscure nephew with 
a brilliant sister. And I should not be thanked if 
I interfered. This skeleton of swift reasoning 
passed between word and word ..." You 
are no sister of mine! " I was continuing my 
sentence quite amiably. 

Her face brightened to greet someone ap- 
proaching behind me. 

" Did you hear him ? " she said. " Did you hear 
him, Mr. Churchill. He casts off — ^he disowns 
me. Isn't he a stern brother? And the quarrel 
is about nothing." The impudence — or the pres- 
ence of mind of it — overwhelmed me. 

Churchill smiled pleasantly. 

" Oh--one always quarrels about nothing," 
Churchill answered. He spoke a few words to 
her; about my aunt; about the way her machine 
ran — ^that sort of thing. He behaved toward 
her as if she were an indulged child, impertinent 



with licence and welcome enough. He himself 
looked rather like the short-sighted, but indul- 
gent and very meagre lion that peers at the uni- 
corn across a plum-cake. 

So you are going back to Paris," he said. 

Miss Churchill will be sorry. And you arc 
going to continue to— to break up the uni- 
verse? " 

" Oh, yes," she answered, " we are going on 
with that, my aunt would never give it up. She 
couldn't, you know." 

" You'll get into trouble," Churchill said, as if 
he were talking to a child intent on stealing 
apples. "And when is our turn coming? 
You're going to restore the Stuarts, aren't you? " 
It was his idea of badinage, amiable without 

" Oh, not quite that," she answered, " not quit€ 
that." It was curious to watch her talking to 
another man — to a man, not a bagman like Cal- 
lan. She put aside the face she always showed me 
and became at once what Churchill took her for 
— a spoiled child. At times she suggested a cer- 
tain kind of American, and had that indefinable 
air of glib acquaintance with the names, and none 



of the spirit of tradition. One half expected her 
to utter rhapsodies about donjon-keeps. 

" Oh, you know," she said, with a fine affecta- 
tion of aloofness, " we shall have to be rather hard 
upon you; we shall crumple you up like — " 
Churchill had been moving his stick absent-mind- 
edly in the dust of the road, he had produced a 
big *' C H U." She had erased it with the point 
of her foot — " like that," she concluded. 

He laid his head back and laughed almost 

" Dear me," he said, " I had no idea that I was 
so much in the way of — of yourself and Mrs. 

" Oh, it's not only that," she said, with a little 
smile and a cast of the eye to me. " But you've 
got to make way for the future." 

Churchill's face changed suddenly. He looked 
rather old, and grey, and wintry, even a little frail. 
I understood what she was proving to me, and I 
rather disliked her for it. It seemed wantonly 
cruel to remind a man of what he was trying to 

" Ah, yes," he said, with the gentle sadness of 
quite an old man, " I dare say there is more in 



that than you think. Even you will have to 

" But not for a long time/' she interrupted 

" I hope not," he answered, " I hope not." 
She nodded and glided away. 

We resumed the road in silence. Mr. Churchill 
smiled at his own thoughts once or twice. 

"A most amusing . . ." he said at last. 
" She does me a great deal of good, a great deal." 

I think he meant that she distracted his 

" Does she always talk like that? " I asked. 
He had hardly spoken to me, and I felt as if I 
were interrupting a reverie^ — ^but I wanted to 

" I should say she did," he answered; " I should 
say so. But Miss Churchill says that she has a 
real genius for organization. She used to see a 
good deal of them, before they went to Paris, 
you know." 

" What are they doing there? " It was as if 
I were extracting secrets from a sleep-walker. 

" Oh, they have a kind of a meeting place, for 
all kinds of Legitimist pretenders — French and 



Spanish, and that sort of thing. I believe Mrs. 
Granger takes it very seriously." He looked at 
me suddenly. " But you ought to know more 
about it than I do/' he said. 

" Oh, we see very little of each other/* I an- 
swered, "you could hardly call us brother and 

" Oh, I see," he answered. I don't know what 
he saw. For myself, I saw nothing. 

t lOO] 

'* - • 


I SUCCEEDED in giving Fox what his jour- 
nal wanted ; I got the atmosphere of Church- 
ill and his house, in a way that satisfied the 
people for whom it was meant. His house was 
a pleasant enough place, of the sort where they 
do you well, but not nauseously well. It stood 
in a tranquil countryside, and stood there mod- 
estly. Architecturally speaking, it was gently 
commonplace; one got used to it and liked it. 
And Churchill himself, when one had become ac- 
customed to his manner, one liked very well — 
very well indeed. He had a dainty, dilettante 
mind, delicately balanced, with strong limita- 
tions, a fantastic temperament for a person in his 
walk of life — but sane, mind you, persistent. Af- 
ter a time^ I amused myself with a theory that 
his heart was not in his work, that circumstance 
had driven him into the career of politics and 
ironical fate set him at its head. For myself, I 
had an intense contempt for the political mind, 



and it struck me that he had some of the same 
feeling. He had little personal quaintnesses, 
too, a deference, a modesty, an open-minded- 

I was with him for the greater part of his week- 
end holiday; hung, perforce, about him whenever 
he had any leisure. I suppose he found me tire- 
some — but one has to do these things. He 
talked, and I talked; heavens, how we talked! 
He was almost always deferential, I almost always 
dogmatic ; perhaps because the conversation kept 
on my own ground. Politics we never touched. 
I seemed to feel that if I broached them, I should 
be checked — politely, but very definitely. Per- 
haps he actually contrived to convey as much to 
me; perhaps I evolved the idea that if I were to 

" What do you think about the * Greenland 
System ' " — he would answer: 

" I try not to think about it," or whatever 
gently closuring phrase his mind conceived. But 
I never did so ; there were so many other topics. 

He was then writing his Life of Cromwell and 
his mind was very full of his subject. Once he 
opened his heart, after delicately sounding me for 



signs of boredom. It happened, by the merest 
chance— one of those blind chances that inevit- 
ably lead in the future — that I, too, was obsessed 
at that moment by the Lord Oliver. A great 
many years before, when I was a yearling of 
tremendous plans, I had set about one of those 
glorious novels that one plans — ^a splendid thing 
with Old Noll as the hero or the heavy father. 
I had haunted the bookstalls in search of local 
colour and had wonderfully well invested my 
half-crowns.^ Thus a company of seventeenth 
century tracts, dog-eared, coverless, but very 
glorious under their dust, accompany me through 
life. One parts last with those relics of a golden 
age, and during my late convalescence I had re- 
read many of them, the arbitrary half-remem- 
bered phrases suggesting all sorts of scenes — 
lamplight in squalid streets, trays full of weather- 
beaten books. So, even then, my mind was full 
of Mercurius Rusticus. Mr. Churchill on Crom- 
well amused me immensely and even excited me. 
It was life, this attending at a self-revelation of 
an impossible temperament. It did me good, as 
he had said of my pseudo-sister. It was fantastic 
— ^as fantastic as herself — ^and it came out more 



in his conversation than in the book itself. I had 
something to do with that, of course. But im- 
agine the treatment accorded to Cromwell by 
this delicate, negative, obstinately judicial person- 
ality. It was the sort of thing one wants to get 
into a novel. It was a lesson to me — in tempera- 
ment, in point of view; I went with his mood, 
tried even to outdo him, in the hope of spurring 
him to outdo himself. I only mention it because 
I did it so well that it led to extraordinary conse- 

We were walking up and down his lawn, in the 
twilight, after his Sunday supp^. The pale light 
shone along the gleaming laurels and dwelt upon 
the soft clouds of orchard blossoms that shim- 
mered above them. It dwelt, too, upon the silver 
streaks in his dark hair and made his face seem 
more pallid, and more old. It affected me like 
some intense piece of irony. It was like hearing 
a dying man talk of the year after next. I had 
the sense of the unreality of things strong upon 
me. Why should nightingale upon nightingale 
pour out volley upon volley of song for the de- 
light of a politician whose heart was not in his 
task of keeping back the waters of the deluge, 



but who grew animated at the idea of damning 
one of the titans who had let loose the deluge? 

About a week after--or it may have been a 
fortnight — Churchill wrote to me and asked me 
to take him to see the Jenkins of my Jenkins 
story. It was one of those ordeals that one goes 
through when one has tried to advance one's 
friends. Jenkins took the matter amiss, thought 
it was a display of insulting patronage on the 
part of officialism. He was reluctant to show 
his best work, the forgotten masterpieces, the 
things that had never sold, that hung about on 
the faded walls and rotted in cellars. He would 
not be his genial self; he would not talk. , Church- 
ill behaved very well — I think he understood. 

Jenkins thawed before his gentle appreciations. 
I could see the change operating within him. He 
began to realise that this incredible visit from a 
man who ought to be hand and glove with Acade- 
micians was something other than a spy's en- 
croachment. He was old, you must remember, 
and entirely unsuccessful. He had fought a hard 
fight and had been worsted. He took his re- 
venge in these suspicions. 

We younger men adored him. He had the 



ruddy face and the archaic silver hair of the King 
of Hearts; and a wonderful elaborate politeness 
that he had inherited from his youth — ^from the 
days of Brummell. And, whilst all his belongings 
were rotting into dust, he retained an extraordi- 
narily youthful and ingenuous habit of mind. It 
was that, or a little of it, that gave the charm 
to my Jenkins story. 

It was a disagreeable experience. I wished so 
much that the perennial hopefulness of the man 
should at last escape deferring and I was afraid 
that Churchill would chill before Jenkins had time 
to thaw. But, as I have said, I think Churchill 
understood. He smiled his kindly, short-sighted 
smile over canvas after canvas, praised the right 
thing in each, remembered having seen this 
and that in such and such a year, and Jenkins 

He happened to leave the room — to fetch some 
studies, to hurry up the tea or for some such 
reason. Bereft of his presence the place suddenly 
grew ghostly. It was as if the sun had died in 
the sky and left us in that nether world where 
dead, buried pasts live in a grey, shadowless light. 
Jenkins' palette glowed from above a medley of 



stained rags on his open colour table. The 
rush-bottom of his chair resembled a wind-torn 

" One can draw morals from a life like that," 
I said suddenly. I was thinking rather of Jenkins 
than of the man I was talking to. 

" Why, yes," he said, absently, " I suppose 
there are men who haven't the knack of getting 



It*s more than a knack," I said, with unneces- 
sary bitterness. " It's a temperament." 
* " I think it's a habit, too. It may be acquired, 
mayn't it?" 

" No, no," I fulminated, " it's precisely because 
it can't be acquired that the best men — the men 
like ..." I stopped suddenly, impressed 
by the idea that the thing was out of tone. I 
had to assert myself more than I liked in talking 
to Churchill. Otherwise I should have disap- 
peared. A word from him had the weight of 
three kingdoms and several colonies behind it, 
and I was forced to get that out of my head by 
making conversation a mere matter of tempera- 
ment. Im 'that I was the stronger. If I wanted 
to say a thing, I said it ; but he was hampered by 

[ 107 ] 


a judicial mind. It seemed, too, that he liked a 
dictatorial interlocutor, else he would hardly have 
brought himself into contact with me again. Per- 
haps it was new to him. My eye fell upon a cou- 
ple of masks, hanging one on each side of the fire- 
place. The room was full of a profusion of little 
casts, thick with dust upon the shoulders, the 
hair, the eyelids, on every part that projected out- 

" By-the-bye," I said, " that's a death-mask of 

" Ah! " he answered, " I knew there was ..." 

He moved very slowly toward it, rather as if 
he did not wish to bring it within his field of view. 
He stopped before reaching it and pivotted slowly 
to face me. 

"About my book," he opened suddenly, "I 
have so little time." His briskness dropped into 
a half complaint, like a faintly suggested avowal 
of impotence. " I have been at it four years 
now. It struck me — ^you seemed to coincide so 
singularly with my ideas." 

His speech came wavering to a close, but he 
recommenced it apologetically — ^as if he wished 
me to help him out. 



*' I went to see Smithson the publisher about 
it, and he said he had no objection , • ." 

He looked appealingly at me. I kept si* 

" Of course, it's not your sort of work. But 
you might try . . . You see . . ." He 
came to a sustained halt. 

" I don't understand," I said, rather coldly, 
when the silence became embarrassing. " You 
want me to * ghost ' for you? " 

" ' Ghost,' good gracious no," he said, ener- 
getically; " dear me, no ! " 

" Then I really don't understand," I said. 

" I thought you might see your ... I 
wanted you to collaborate with me. Quite pub- 
licly, of course, as far as the epithet applies." 

"To collaborate," I said slowly. "You . . ." 

I was looking at a miniature of the Farnese 
Hercules — I wondered what it meant, what club 
had struck the wheel of my fortune and whirled 
it into this astounding attitude. 

Of course you must think about it," he said. 
I don't know," I muttered; " the idea is so 
new. It's so little in my line. I don't know 
what I should make of it." 





I talked at random. There were so many 
thoughts jostling in my head. It seemed to carry 
me so much farther from the kind of work I 
wanted to do. I did not really doubt my ability 
— one does not. I rather regarded it as work 
upon a lower plane. And it was a tremendous 
— ^an incredibly tremendous— opportunity. 

" You know pretty well how much I've done," 
he continued. " I've got a good deal of material 
together and a good deal of the actual writing is 
done. But there is ever so much still to do. It's 
getting beyond me, as I said just now." 

I looked at him again, rather incredulously. 
He stood before me, a thin parallelogram of black 
with a mosaic of white about the throat. The 
slight grotesqueness of the man made him almost 
impossibly real in his abstracted earnestness. He 
so much meant what he said that he ignored what 
his hands were doing, or his body or his head. 
He had taken a very small, very dusty book out 
of a little shelf beside him, and was absently turn- 
ing over the rusty leaves, while he talked with 
his head bent over it. What was I to him, or 
he to me? 

" I could give my Saturday afternoons to it/' 



he was saying, "whenever you could come 

" It's immensely kind of you," I began. 

" Not at all, not at all," he waived. " I've set 
my heart on doing it and, unless you help me, I 
don't suppose I ever shall get it done." 

" But there are hundreds of others," I said. 

" There may be," he said, " there may be. 
But I have not come across them." 

I was beset by a sudden emotion of blind can- 

" Oh, nonsense, nonsense," I said. " Don't 
you see that you are offering me the chance of 
a lifetime? " 

Churchill laughed. 

" After all, one cannot refuse to take what of- 
fers," he said. " Besides, your right man to do 
the work might not suit me as a collaborator." 

" It's very tempting," I said. 

" Why, then, succumb," he smiled. 

I could not find arguments against him, and 
I succumbed as Jenkins re-entered the room. 



AFTER that I began to live, as one lives; 
and for forty-nine weeks. I know it was 
forty-nine, because I got fifty-two atmos- 
pheres in all; Callan's and Churchill's, and those 
forty-nine and the last one that finished the job 
and the year of it. It was amusing work in its 
way; people mostly preferred to have their at- 
mospheres taken at their country houses — ^it 
showed that they had them, I suppose. Thus I 
spent a couple of days out of every week in agree- 
able resorts, and people were very nice to me — ^it 
was part of the game. 

So I had a pretty good time for a year and en- 
joyed it, probably because I had had a pretty 
bad one for several years. I filled in the rest of 
my weeks by helping Fox and collaborating with 
Mr. Churchill and adoring Mrs. Hartly at odd 
moments. I used to hang about the office of 
the Hour on the chance of snapping up a blank 

I 112] 


three lines fit for a subtle puff of her. Some- 
tunes they were too hurried to be subtle, and 
then Mrs. Hartly was really pleased. 

I never understood her in the least, and I very 
much doubt whether she ever understood a word 
I said. I imagine that I must have talked to her 
about her art or her mission — things obviously 
as strange to her as to the excellent Hartly him- 
self. I suppose she hadn't any art ; I am certain 
she hadn't any mission, except to be adored. She 
walked about the stage and one adored her, just 
as she sat about her flat and was adored, and there 
the matter ended. 

As for Fox, I seemed to suit him — I don't in 
the least know why. No doubt he knew me bet- 
ter than I knew myself. He used to get hold 
of me whilst I was hanging about the office on 
the chance of engaging space for Mrs. Hartly, 
and he used to utilise me for the ignoblest things. 
I saw men for him, scribbled notes for him, abused 
people through the telephone, and^ wrote articles. 
Of course, there were the pickings. 

I never understood Fox — ^not in the least, not 
more than I understood Mrs. Hartly. He had 
the mannerisms of the most incredible vulgarian 



and had, apparently, the point of view of a pig. 
But there was something else that obscured all 
that, that forced one to call him a wonderful man. 
Everyone called him that. He used to say that 
he knew what he wanted and that he got it, and 
that was true, too. I didn't in the least want to 
do his odd jobs, even for the ensuing pickings, 
and I didn't want to be hail-fellow with him. But 
I did them and I was, without even realising that 
it was distasteful to me. It was probably the 
same with everybody else. 

I used to have an idea that I was going to 
reform him; that one day I should make him 
convert the Hour into an asylum for writers of 
merit. He used to let me have my own way 
sometimes — ^just often enough to keep my con- 
science from inconveniencing me. He let me 
present Lea with an occasional column and a 
half; and once he promised me that one day he 
would allow me to get the atmosphere of Arthur 
Edwards, the novelist. 

Then there was Churchill and the Life of 
Cromwell that progressed slowly. The experi- 
ment succeeded well enough, as I grew less domi- 
neering and he less embarrassed. Toward the 




end I seemed to have become a familiar inmate 
of his house. I used to go down with him on 
Saturday afternoons and we talked things over in 
the train. It was, to an idler like myself, won- 
derful the way that essential idler's days were 
cut out and fitted in like the squares of a child's 
puzzle ; little passages of work of one kind fitting 
into quite unrelated passages of something else. 
He did it well, too, without the remotest sem- 
blance of hurry. 

I suppose that actually the motive power was 
his aunt. People used to say so, but it did not 
appear on the surface to anyone in close contact 
with the man; or it appeared only in very small 
things. We used to work in a tall, dark, pleasant 
room, book-lined, and giving on to a lawn that 
was always an asylum for furtive thrushes. Miss 
Churchill, as a rule, sat half forgotten near the 
window, with the light falling over her shoulder. 
She was always very absorbed in papers ; seemed 
to be spending laborious days in answering let- 
ters, in evolving reports. Occasionally she ad- 
dressed a question to her nephew, occasionally 
received guests that came informally but could 
not be refused admittance. Once it was a semi- 


royal personage, once the Due de Mersch, my 
reputed employer. 

The latter, I remember, was announced when 
Churchill and I were finally finishing our account 
of the tremendous passing of the Protector. In 
that silent room I had a vivid sense of the vast 
noise of the storm in that twilight of the crown- 
ing mercy. I seemed to see the candles a-flicker 
in the eddies of air forced into the gloomy room; 
the great bed and the portentous uncouth form 
that struggled in the shadows of the hangings. 
Miss Churchill looked up from the card that had 
been placed in her hands. 

" Edward," she said, " the Due de Mersch." 

Churchill rose irritably from his low seat 
"Confound him," he said, " I won't see him." 

"You can't help it, I think," his aunt said, 
reflectively; "you will have to settle it sooner 
or later." 

I know pretty well what it was they had to 
settle — ^the Greenland affair that had hung in the 
dir so long. I knew it from hearsay, from Fox, 
vaguely enough. Mr. Gurnard was said to 
recommend it for financial reasons, the Due to 
be eager, Churchill to hang back unaccount- 



ably. I never had much head for details of this 
sort, but people used to explain them to me — 
to explain the reasons for de Mersch's eagerness. 
They were rather shabby, rather incredible rea- 
sons, that sounded too reasonable to be true. He 
wanted the money for his railways — wanted it 
very badly. He was vastly in want of money, 
he was this, that, and the other in certain inter- 
national-philanthropic concerns, and had a finger 
in this, that, and the other pie. There was an 
" All Round the World Cable Company " that 
united hearts and hands, and a " Pan-European 
Railway, Exploration, and Civilisation Company " 
that let in light in dark places, and an " Inter- 
national Housing of the Poor Company," as well 
as a number of others. Somewhere at the bot- 
tom of these seemingly bottomless concerns, the 
Due de Mersch was said to be moving, and the 
Hour certainly contained periodically complimen- 
tary allusions to their higher philanthropy and 
dividend-earning prospects. But that was ad 
much as I knew. The same people — ^peqple one 
met in smoking-rooms — said that the Trans- 
Greenland Railway was the last card of de Mersch. 
British investors wouldn't trust the Due without 



some sort of guarantee from the British Govern- 
ment, and no other investor would trust him on 
any terms. England was to guarantee something 
or other — the interest for a number of years, I 
suppose. I didn't believe them, of course— one 
makes it a practice to believe nothing of the sort. 
But I recognised that the evening was momentous 
to somebody — that Mr. Gurnard and the Due de 
Mersch and Churchill were to discuss something 
and that I was remotely interested because the 
Hour employed me. 

Churchill continued to pace up and down. 

" Gurnard dines here to-night," his aunt said. 

" Oh, I see." His hands played with some 
coins in his trouser-pockets. " I see," he said 
again, " they've ..." 

The occasion impressed me. I remember very 
well the manner of both nephew and aunt. They 
seemed to be suddenly called to come to a de- 
cision that was no easy one, that they had wished 
to relegate to an indefinite future. 

She left Churchill pacing nervously up and 

" I could go on with something else, if you 
like," I said. 



" But I don't like," he said, energetically; " I'd 
much rather not see the man. You know the 
sort of person he is." 

" Why, no," I answered, ^' I never studied the 
Almanac de Gotha." 

" Oh, I forgot," he said. He seemed vexed 
with himself. 

Churchill's dinners were frequently rather try- 
ing to me. Personages of enormous importance 
used to drop in — ^and reveal themselves as rather 
asinine. At the best of times they sat dimly op- 
posite to me, discomposed me, and disappeared. 
Sometimes they stared me down. That night 
there were two of them. 

Gurnard I had heard of. One can't help hear- 
ing of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. The books 
of reference said that he was the son of one Will- 
iam Gurnard, Esq., of Grimsby; but I remember 
that once in my club a man who professed to 
know everything, assured me that W. Gurnard, 
Esq. (whom he had described as a fish salesman), 
was only an adoptive father. His rapid rise 
seemed to me inexplicable till the same man ac- 
counted for it with a shrug: "When a man of 
such ability believes in nothing, and sticks at 



nothing, there's no saying how far he may go. 
He has kicked away every ladder. He doesn't 
mean to come down." 

This, no doubt, explained much; but not every- 
thing in his fabulous career. His adherents 
called him an inspired statesman; his enemies set 
him down a mere politician. He was a man of 
forty-five, thin, slightly bald, and with an icy as- 
surance of manner. He was indifferent to at- 
tacks upon his character, but crushed mercilessly 
every one who menaced his position. He stood 
alone, and a little mysterious; his own party was 
afraid of him. ^ 

Gurnard was quite hidden from me by table 
ornaments; the Due de Mersch glowed with 
light and talked voluminously, as if he had for 
years and years been starved of human society. 
He glowed all over, it seemed to me. He had a 
glorious beard, that let one see very little of his 
florid face and took the edge away from an almost 
non-existent forehead and depressingly wrinkled 
eyelids. He spoke excellent English, rather 
slowly, as if he were forever replying to toasts to 
his health. It struck me that he seemed to treat 
Churchill in nuances as an inferior, whilst for the 



invisible Gurnard, he reserved an attitude of 


nervous self-assertion. He had apparently come 
to dilate on the Systhne Groenlandais, and he 
dilated. Some mistaken persons had insinuated 
that the Systhne was neither more nor less than 
a corporate exploitation of unhappy Esquimaux. 
De Mersch emphatically declared that those mis- 
taken people were mistaken, declared it with 
official finality. The Esquimaux were not un- 
happy. I paid attention to my dinner, and let 
the discourse on the affairs of the Hyperborean 
Protectorate lapse into an unheeded murmur. 
I tried to be the simple amanuensis at the feast. 

Suddenly, however, it struck me that de Mersch 
was talking at me; that he had by the merest 
shade raised his intonation. He was dilating upon 
the immense international value of the proposed 
Trans-Greenland Railway. Its importance to 
British trade was indisputable; even the op- 
position had no serious arguments to offer. It 
was the obvious duty of the British Government 
to give the financial guarantee. He would not 
insist upon the moral aspect of the work — ^it was 
unnecessary. Progress, improvement, civilisa- 
tion, 4 little less evil in the world — mov^ light 1 It 


was our duty not to count the cost of humanising 
a lower race. Besides, the thing would pay like 
another Suez Canal. Its terminus and the Britn 
ish coaling station would be on the west coast of 
the island. ... I knew the man was talking 
at me — I wondered why. 

Suddenly he turned his glowing countenance 
full upon me. 

" I think I must have met a member of your 
family," he said. The solution occurred to me. 
I was a journalist, he a person interested in a rail- 
way that he wished the Government to back in 
some way or another. His attempts to capture 
my suffrage no longer astonished me. I mur- 
mured : 


" In Paris — Mrs. Etchingham Granger," he 

I s^id, " Oh, yes." 

Miss Churchill came to the rescue. 

" The Due de Mersch means oiu" friend, your 
aunt," she explained. I had an unpleasant sen- 
sation. Through fronds of asparagus fern I 
caught the eyes of Gurnard fixed upon me as 
though something had drawn his attention. I 



returned his glance, tried to make his face out. 
It had nothing distinctive in its half-hidden pallid 
oval; nothing that one could seize upon. But it 
gave the impression of never having seen the light 
of day, of never having had the sun upon it. But 
the conviction that I had aroused his attention 
disturbed me. What could the man know about 
me? I seemed to feel his glance bore through 
the irises of my eyes into the back of my skull. 
The feeling was almost physical; it was as if some 
incredibly concentrant reflector had been turned 
upon me. Then the eyelids dropped over the 
metallic rings beneath them. Miss Churchill 
continued to explain. 

** She has started a sort of Salon des Causes 
Perdues in the Faubourg Saint Germain." She 
was recording the vagaries of my aunt. The 
Due laughed* 

" Ah, yes," he said, *' what a menagerie — Car- 
lists, and Orleanists, and Papal Blacks. I wonder 
she has not held a bazaar in favour of your White 
Rose League." 

" Ah, yes," I echoed, " I have heard that she 
was mad about the divine right of kings." 

Miss Churchill rose, as ladies rise at the end of 


a dinner. I followed her out of the room, in 
obedience to some minute signal. 

We were on the best of terms — ^we two. She 
mothered me, as she mothered everybody not 
beneath contempt or above a certain age. I liked 
her immensely — the masterful, absorbed, brown 
lady. As she walked up the stairs, she said, in 
half apology for withdrawing me. 

" They've got things to talk about.'* 

" Why, yes," I answered; " I suppose the rail- 
way matter has to be settled." She looked at 
me fixedly. 

You — ^you mustn't talk," she warned. 
Oh," I answered, " I'm not indiscreet — ^not 

The other three were somewhat tardy in mak* 
ing their drawing-room appearance. I had a 
sense of them, leaning their heads together over 
the ed^es of the table. In the interim a rather 
fierce political dowager convoyed two well-con- 
trolled, blond daughters into the room. There 
was a continual coming and going of such people 
in the house; they did with Miss Churchill social 
business of some kind, arranged electoral rar6e- 
shows, and what not; troubled me very little. 




On this occasion the blond daughters were types 
of the sixties' survivals — the type that unemo- 
tionally inspected albums. I was convoying them 
through a volume of views of Switzerland, the 
dowager was saying to Miss Churchill : 

" You think, then, it will be enough if we have 
. . . *' When the door opened behind my 
back, I looked round negligently and hastily 
returned to the consideration of a shining photo- 
graph of the Dent du Midi. A very gracious 
figiu'e of a girl was embracing the grim Miss 
Churchill, as a gracious girl should virginally 
salute a grim veteran. 

" Ah, my dear Miss Churchill! " a fluting voice 
filled the large room, " we were very nearly going 
back to Paris without once coming to see you. 
We are only over for two days — for the Tenants* 
Ball, and so my aunt . • . but surely that 
is Arthur. • • . " 

I turned eagerly. It was the Dimensionist 
girl. She continued talking to Miss Churchill. 
" We meet so seldom, and we are never upon 
terms," she said lightly. " I assure you we are 
like cat and dog." She came toward me and 
the blond maidens disappeared, everybody, every- 

[ 125 ] 


thing disappeared. I had not seen her for nearly 
a year. I had vaguely gathered from Miss 
Churchill that she was regarded as' a sister of 
mine, that she had, with wealth inherited from 
a semi-fabulous Australian uncle, revived the 
glories of my aunt's house. I had never denied 
it, because I did not want to interfere with my 
aunt's attempts to regain some of the family's 
prosperity. It even had my sympathy to a small 
extent, for, after all, the family was my family 

As a memory my pseudo-sister had been some- 
thing bright and clear-cut and rather small ; seen 
now, she was something that one could not look 
at for glow. She moved toward me, smiling and 
radiant, as a ship moves beneath towers of shin- 
ing canvas. I was simply overwhelmed. I don't 
know what she said, what I said, what she did 
or I. I have an idea that we conversed for some 
minutes. I remember that she said, at some 

"Go away now; I want to talk to Mr. Gur- 

As a matter of fact, Gurnard was making 
toward her — a deliberate, slow progress. She 



greeted him with nonchalance, as, beneath eyes, 
a woman greets a man she knows intimately. I 
found myself hating him, thinking that he was 
not the sort of man she ought to know. 

"It's settled?*' she asked him, as he came 
within range. He looked at me inquiringly- — ^in- 
solently. She said, " My brother,'* and he an- 

" Oh, yes," as I moved away. I hated the 
man and I could not keep my eyes off him and 
her. I went and stood against the mantel-piece. 
The Due de Mersch bore down upon them, and 
I welcomed his interruption until I saw that he, 
too, was intimate with her, intimate with a pom- 
posity of flourishes as irritating as Gurnard's 

I stood there and glowered at them. I noted 
her excessive beauty; her almost perilous self- 
possession while she stood talking to those two 
men. Of me there was nothing left but the 
eyes. I had no mind, no thoughts. I saw the 
three figures go through the attitudes of con- 
versation — she very animated, de Mersch gro- 
tesquely empresse, Gurnard undisguisedly satur- 
nine. He repelled me exactly as grossly vulgar 



men had the power of doing, but he, himself, was 
not that— there was something • . . some- 
thing. I could not quite make out his face, I 
never could. I never did, any more than I could 
ever quite visualise hers. I wondered vaguely 
how Churchill could work in harness with such 
a man, how he could bring himself to be closeted, 
as he had just been, with him and with a fool like 
de Mersch — I should have been afraid. 

As for de Mersch, standing between those two, 
he seemed like a country lout between confed- 
erate sharpers. It struck me that she let me see, 
made me see, that she and Gurnard had an un- 
derstanding, made manifest to me by glances that 
passed when the Due had his unobservant eyes 
turned elsewhere. 

I saw Churchill, in turn, move desultorily to- 
ward them, drawn in, like a straw toward a lit- 
tle whirlpool. I turned my back in a fury of 



I HAD a pretty bad night after that, and was 
not much in the mood for Fox on the mor- 
row. The sight of her had dwarfed every- 
thing; the thought of her disgusted me with 
everything, made me out of conceit with the world 
— ^with that part of the world that had becorne my 
world. I wanted to get up into hers — ^and I could 
not see any way. The room in which Fox sat 
seemed to be hopelessly off the road — to be hope- 
lessly off any road to any place; to be the end of 
a blind alley. One day I might hope to occupy 
such a room — in my shirt-sleeves, like Fox. But 
that was not the end of my career — ^not the en3 
that I desired. She had upset me. 

" YouVe just missed Polehampton," Fox said; 
" wanted to get hold of your ' Atmospheres.' ** 

" Oh, damn Polehampton/* I said, " and par- 
ticularly damn the ' Atmospheres.* " 

" Willingly," Fox said, " but I told Mr. P. that 
you were willing if . . ." 



" I don't want to know," I repeated. " I tell 
you Fm sick of the things." 

" What a change," he asserted, sympathetically, 
" I thought you would." 

It struck me as disgusting that a person like 
Fox should think about me at all. " Oh, I'll see 
it through," I said. '' Who's the next? " 

" We've got to have the Due de Mersch now," 
he answered, " De Mersch as State Founder — 
written as large as you can — ^all across the page. 
The moment's come and we've got to rope it in, 
that's all. I've been middling good to you . . • • 
You understand . . ." 

He began to explain in his dark sentences. The 
time had come for an energetically engineered 
boom in de Mersch — ^a boom all along the line. 
And I was to commence the campaign. Fox 
had been good to me and I was to repay him. I 
listened in a sort of apathetic indifference. 

" Oh, very well," I said. I was subconsciously 
aware that, as far as I was concerned, the deter- 
mining factor of the situation was the announce- 
ment that de Mersch was to be in Paris. If he 
had been in his own particular grand duchy I 
wouldn't have gone after him. For a moment 



I thought of the interview as taking place in 
London. But Fox — ostensibly, at least — ^wasn't 
even aware of de Mersch's visit; spoke of him 
as being in Paris — in a flat in which he was ac- 
customed to interview the continental financiers 
who took up so much of his time. 

I realised that I wanted to go to Paris be- 
cause she was there. She had said that she was 
going to Paris on the morrow of yesterday. 
The name was pleasant to me^ and it turned 
the scale. 

Fox's eyes remained upon my face. 

" Do you good, eh? " he dimly interpreted my 
thoughts. " A run over. I thought you'd like 
it and, look here, Polehampton's taken over the 
Bi'MantMy; w3Lnts to get new blood into it, see? 
He'd take something. I've been talking to him 
— a short series. . . . ' Aspects.'^ That sort 
of thing." I tried to work myself into some sort 
of enthusiasm of gratitude. I knew that Fox had 
spoken well of me to Polehampton — as a sort of 
set off. 

" You go and see Mr. P.," he confirmed; " it's 
really all arranged. And then get off to Paris as 
fast as you can and have a good time," 



"Have I been unusually cranky lately?** I 

" Oh, you've been a little off the hooks, I 
thought, for the last week or so/' 

He took up a large bottle of white mucilage, 
and I accepted it as a sign of dismissal. I was 
touched by his solicitude for my health. It al* 
ways did touch me, and I found myself unusually 
broad-minded in thought as I went down the 
terra-cotta front steps into the streets. For all 
his frank vulgarity, for all his shirt-sleeves — I 
somehow regarded that habit of his as the final 
mark of the Beast — and the Louis Quinze acces- 
sories, I felt a warm good-feeling for the little 

I made haste to see Polehampton, to beard him 
in a sort of den that contained a number of shelves 
of books selected for their glittering back decora- 
tion. They gave the impression that Mr. Pole- 
hampton wished to suggest to his visitors the fit- 
ness and propriety of clothing their walls with the 
same gilt cloth. They gave that idea, but I think 
that, actually, Mr. Polehampton took an aesthetic 
delight in the gilding. He was not a publisher 
by nature. He had drifted into the trade mid 

1 132 J 


success, but beneath a polish o! acquaintance re- 
tained a fine awe for a book as such. In early life 
he had had such shining things on a shiny table in 
a parlour. He had a similar awe for his daugh- 
ter, who had been bom after his entry into the 
trade, and who had the literary flavour — ^ flavour 
so pronounced that he dragged her by the heels 
into any conversation with us who hewed his raw 
material, expecting, I suppose, to cow us. For 
the greater good of this young lady he had bought 
the Bi'Monthly— one of the portentous political 
organs. He had, they said, ideas of forcing a 
seat out of the party as a recompense. 

It didn't matter much what was the nature of 
my series of articles. I was to get the atmosphere 
of cities as I had got those of the various indi- 
viduals. I seemed to pay on those lines, and Miss 
Polehampton commended me. 

" My daughter likes . . . eh . . • your 
touch, you know, and . . ." His terms were 
decent — ^for the man, and were offered with a 
flourish that indicated special benevolence and 
a reference to the hundred pounds. I was at a 
loss to account for his manner until he began to 
stammer out an indication. Its lines were that 



I knew Fox, and I knew Churchill and the Due 
de Mersch, and the Hour. " And those financial 
articles • . . in the Hour . . . were they 
now? . . ^ Were they . . . was the Trans- 
Greenland railway actually . . . did I think 
it would be worth one's while ... in fact 
." and so on. 

I never was any good in a situation of that sort, 
never any good at all. I ought to have assumed 
blank ignorance, but the man's eyes pleaded; it 
seemed a tremendous matter to him. I tried to be 
non-committal, and said: "Of course I haven't 
any right." But I had a vague, stupid sense that 
loyalty to Churchill demanded that I should 
back up a man he was backing. As a matter of 
fact, nothing so direct was a-gate, it couldn't 
have been. It was something about shares in one 
of de Mersch's other enterprises. Polehampton 
was going to pick them up for nothing, and they 
were going to rise when the boom in de Mersch's 
began — something of the sort. And the boom 
would begin as soon as the news of the agree- 
ment about the railway got abroad. 

I let him get it out of me in a way that makes 
the thought of that bare place with its gilt book- 



backs and its three uncomfortable office-chairs 
and the ground-glass windows through which one 
read the inversion of the legend " Polehampton," 
all its gloom and its rigid lines and its pallid light, 
a memory of confusion. And Polehampton was 
properly grateful, and invited me to dine with him 
and his phantasmal daughter — ^who wanted to 
make my acquaintance. It was like a command 
to a state banquet given by a palace official, and 
Lea would be invited to meet me. Miss Pole- 
hampton did not like Lea, but he had to be asked 
once a year — to encourage good feeling, I sup- 
pose. The interview dribbled out on those lines. 
I asked if it was one of Lea's days at the office. 
It was not. I tried to put in a good word for 
Lea, but it was not very effective. Polehampton 
was too subject to his assistant's thorns to be 
responsive to praise of him. 

So I hurried out of the place. I wanted to be 
out of this medium in which my ineffectiveness 
threatened to proclaim itself to me. It was not a 
very difficult matter. I had, in those days, rooms 
in one of the political journalists' clubs — ^a vast 
mausoleum of white tiles. But a man used to 
pack my portmanteau very efficiently and at short 



notice. At the station one of those coincidences 
that are not coincidences made me run against the 
great Callan. He was rather unhappy — found it 
impossible to make an already distracted porter 
listen to the end of one of his sentences with two- 
second waits between each word. For that rea* 
son he brightened to see me — ^was delighted to 
find a through-journey companion who would 
take him on terms of greatness. In the railway 
carriage, divested of troublesome bags that im- 
parted anxiety to his small face and a stagger to 
his walk, he swelled to his normal dimensions. 

" So you're — going to — Paris," he meditated, 
" for the Hourr 

" Fm going to Paris for the Hour/' I agreed. 

" Ah! *' he went on, " you're going to interview 
the Elective Grand Duke ..." 

"We call him the Due de Mersch," I inter- 
rupted, flippantly. It was a matter of nuances. 
The Elective Grand Duke was a philanthropist 
and a State Founder, the Due de Mersch was the 
hero as financier. 

" Of Holstein-Launewitz," Callan ignored. 
The titles slipped over his tongue like the last 
drops of some inestimable oily vintage. 



" I might have saved you the trouble. I'm go- 
ing to see him myself." 

" YoUy^ I italicised. It struck me as phe- 
nomenal and rather absurd that everybody that I 
came across should, in some way or other, be 
mixed up with this portentous philanthropist. It 
was as if a fisherman were drawing in a ground 
line baited with hundreds of hooks. He had a lit- 
tle offended air. 

" He, or, I should say, a number of people in- 
terested in a philanthropic society, have asked me 
to go to Greenland." 

" Do they want to get rid of you? " I asked, 
flippantly. I was made to know my place. 

^* My dear fellow," Callan said, in his most de- 
liberate, most Olympian tone. " I believe you're 
entirely mistaken, I believe • . . I've been 
informed that the Systeme Grotolandais is one of 
the healthiest places in the Polar regions. There 
arc interested persons who . . ." 

" So I've heard," I interrupted, " but I can as- 
sure you I've heard nothing but good of the 
Systeme and the . . . and its philanthropists. 
•I meant nothing against them. I was only aston- 
ished that you should go to such a place/' 


'* I have been asked to go upon a mission/' he 
explained, seriously, " to ascertain what the truth 
about the Systeme really is. It is a new country 
with, I am assured, a great future in store. A 
great deal of English money has been invested in 
its securities, and naturally great interest is taken 
in its affairs." 

*' So it seems,*' I said, " I seem to run upon it 
at every hour of the day and night" 

" Ah, yes," Callan rhapsodised, " it has a great 
future in store, a great future. The Duke is a true 
philanthropist. He has taken infinite pains — in- 
finite pains. He wished to build up a model state, 
the model protectorate of the world, a place where 
perfect equality shall obtain for all races, all creeds, 
and all colours. You would scarcely believe how 
he has worked to ensure the happiness of the 
native races. He founded the great society to 
protect the Esquimaux, the Society for the Re- 
generation of the Arctic Regions— the S. R. A. R. 
--as you called it, and now he is only waiting to 
accomplish his greatest project — the Trans- 
Greenland railway. When that is done, he will 
hand over the Systeme to his own people. That 
is the act of a great man." 



" Ah, yes," I said. 

"Well," Callan began again, but suddenly 
paused. " By-the-bye, this must go no farther," 
he said, anxiously, " I will let you have full par- 
ticulars when the time is ripe." 

" My dear Callan," I said, touchily, " I can hold 
my tongue." 

He went off at tangent. 

" I don't want you to take my word — I haven't 
seen it yet. But I feel assured about it myself. 
The most distinguished people have spoken to me 
in its favour. The celebrated traveller, Aston, 
spoke of it with tears in his eyes. He was the first 
governor-general, you know. Of course I should 
not take any interest in it, if I were not satisfied 
as to that. It is percisely because I feel that the 
thing is one of the finest monuments of a grand 
century that I am going to lend it the weight of 
nay pen." 

" I quite understand," I assured him; then, so- 
licitously, " I hope they don't expect you to do 
it for nothing." 

" Oh, dear, no," Callan answered. 

" Ah, well, I wish you luck," I said. " They 
couldn't have got a better man to win over the 



National conscience. I suppose it comes to 

Callan nodded. 

" I fancy I have the ear of the public/* he said. 
He seemed to get satisfaction from the thought. 

The train entered Folkestone Harbour. The 
smell of the sea and the easy send of the boat put 
a little heart into me, but my spirits were on the 
down grade. Callan was a trying companion. 
The sight of him stirred uneasy emotions, the 
sound of his voice jarred. 

" Are you coming to the Grand? " he said, as 
we passed St. Denis. 

" My God, no," I answered, hotly, " I'm going 
across the river/* 

" Ah," he murmured, " the Quartier Latin. I 
wish I could come with you. But IVe my repu- 
tation to think of. You'd be surprised how peo- 
ple get to hear of my movements. Besides, Vtn 
a family man." 

I was agitatedly silent. The train steamed into 
the glare of the electric lights, and, getting into 
a fiacre, I breathed again. I seemed to be at the 
entrance of a new life, a better sort of paradise, 
during that drive across the night city. In Lon- 



don one is always a passenger, in Paris one has 
reached a goal. The crowds on the pavements, 
under the plane-trees, in the black shadows, in 
the white glare of the open spaces, are at leisure 
— they go nowhere, seek nothing beyond. 

We crossed the river, the unwinking towers of 
Notre Dame towering pallidly against the dark 
sky behind us; rattled into the new light of the 
resuming boulevard; turned up a dark street, and 
came to a halt before a half-familiar shut door. 
You know how one wakes the sleepy concierge, 
how one takes one's candle, climbs up hundreds 
and hundreds of smooth stairs, following the slip- 
shod footfalls of a half-awakened guide upward 
through Rembrandt's own shadows, and how 
one's final sleep is sweetened by the little incon- 
veniences of a strange bare room and of a strange 
hard bed. 

1 141] 


BEFORE noon of the next day I was 
ascending the stairs of the new house in 
which the Due had his hermitage. There 
was an air of secrecy in the broad publicity of the 
carpeted stairs that led to his flat; a hush in the 
atmosphere; in the street itself, a glorified ctd de 
sac that ran into the bustling life of the Italiens. 
It had the sudden sluggishness of a back-water. 
One seemed to have grown suddenly deaf in the 
midst of the rattle. 

There was an incredible suggestion of silence 
— the silence of a private detective— in the mien 
of the servant who ushered me into a room. He 
was the English servant of the theatre — ^the Eng- 
lish servant that foreigners affect. The room had 
a splendour of its own, not a cheaply vulgar splen- 
dour, but the vulgarity of the most lavish plush 
and purple kind. The air was heavy, killed by the 
scent of exotic flowers, darkened by curtains that 
suggested the voluminous velvet backgrounds 
of certain old portraits. The Due de Mersch had 



carried with him into this place of retirement the 
taste of the New Palace, that show-place of his 
that was the stupefaction of swarms of honest 

I remembered soon enough that the man was 
a philanthropist, that he might be an excellent 
man of heart and indifferent of taste. He must 
be. But I was prone to be influenced by things 
of this sort, and felt depressed at the thought 
that so much of royal excellence should weigh 
so heavily in the wrong scale of the balance of 
the applied arts. I turned my back on the room 
and gazed at the blazing white decorations of the 
opposite house-fronts. 

A door behind me must have opened, for I 
heard the sounds of a concluding tirade in a high- 
pitched voice. 

" Et quant a tin due de farce, je ne m'en fiche 
pas mal, nioi/' it said in an accent curiously com- 
pounded of the foreign and the coulisse. A mut- 
tered male remonstrance ensued, and then, with 
disconcerting clearness: 

" Gr-r-rangeur — Eschingan — eh bien — il en- 
tend. Et moi, fentends, moi aussi. Tu veux 
me jouer centre, elle. La Grangeur — pah! Can- 

1 143] 


soles'toi avec elle, mon vieux. Je ne veux plus 
de tot. Tu nCas donni de tes sales rentes Groen- 
tandoises, et je tCai pas pu les vendre. Ah, vieux 
farceur, tu vas voir ce que fen vais faire." 

A glorious creature — a really glorious creature 
*— -came out of an adjoining room. She was as 
frail, as swaying as a garden lily. Her great blue 
eyes turned irefuUy upon me, her bowed lips 
parted, her nostrils quivered. 

'' Et quant d vous, M. Grangeur Eschingan,'' 
she began, ";V vais vous donner mon idee d 


I did not understand the situation in the least, 
but I appreciated the awkwardness of it. The 
world seemed to be standing on its head. I was 
overcome; but I felt for the person in the next 
room. I did not know what to do. Suddenly I 
found myself saying: 

** I am extremely sorry, madam, but I don't 
understand French." An expression of more in- 
tense vexation passed into her face — ^her beautiful 
face. I fancy she wished — wished intensely — to 
give me the benefit of her " idie d elle*^ She made 
a quick, violent gesture of disgusted contempt, 
and turned toward the half-open door from which 



she had come. She began again to dilate upon 
the little weaknesses of the person behind, when 
silently and swiftly it closed. We heard the lock 
click. With extraordinary quickness she had 
her mouth at the keyhole: '' Peeg, peeg," she 
enunciated. Then she stood to her full height, 
her face became calm, her manner stately. She 
glided half way across the room, paused, looked 
at me, and pointed toward the unmoving door. 

" Peegf peeg" she explained, mysteriously. I 
think she was warning me against the wiles of the 
person behind the door. I gazed into her great 
eyes. " I understand," I said, gravely. She 
glided from the room. For me the incident sup- 
plied a welcome touch of comedy. I had leisure 
for thought. The door remained closed. It 
made the Due a more real person for me. I had 
regarded him as a rather tiresome person in 
whom a pompous philanthropism took the place 
of human feelings. It amused me to be called Le 
Grangeur. It amused me, and I stood in need 
of amusement. Without it I might never have 
written the article on the Due. I had started out 
that morning in a state of nervous irritation. I 
had wanted more than ever to have done with 



t the thing, with the Hour, with journalism, with 
everything. But this little new experience 
buoyed me up, set my mind working in less mor- 
bid lines. I began to wonder whether de Mersch 
would funk, or whether he would take my non- 
comprehension of the woman's tirades as a thing 

The door at which I had entered, by which she 
had left, opened. 

He must have impressed me in some way or 
other that evening at the Churchills. He seemed 
a very stereotyped image in my memory. He 
spoke just as he had spoken, moved his hands just 
as I expected him to move them. He called for 
no modification of my views of his person. As a 
rule one classes a man so-and-so at first meetings 
modifies the classification at each subsequent one> 
and so on. He seemed to be all affability, of an 
adipose turn. He had the air of the man of the 
world among men of the world; but none of the 
unconscious reserve of manner that one expects 
to find in the temporarily great. He had in its 
place a kind of sub-sulkiness, as if he regretted 
the pedestal from which he had descended. 

In his slow commercial English he apologised 



for having kept me waiting; he had been taking 
the air of this fine morning, he said. He mum- 
bled the words with his eyes on my waistcoat, with 
an air that accorded rather ill with the semblance 
of portentous probity that his beard conferred on 
him. But he set an eye-glass in his left eye im- 
mediately afterward, and looked straight, at me 
as if in challenge. With a smiling " Don't men- 
tion,'* I tried to demonstrate that I met him half 

You want to interview me," he said, blandly. 
I am only too pleased. I suppose it is about 
my Arctic schemes that you wish to know. I 
will do what I can to inform you. You perhaps 
remember what I said when I had the pleasure of 
meeting you at the house of the Right Honour- 
able Mr. Churchill. It has been the dream of my 
life to leave behind me a happy and contented 
State — ^as much as laws and organisation can 
make one. This is what I should most like the 
English to know of me." He was a dull talker. 
I supposed that philanthropists and state founders 
kept their best faculties for their higher pursuits. 
I imagined the low, receding forehead and the 
pink-nailed, fleshy hands to belong to a new 



Solon, a latter-day -Sneas. I tried to work my- 
self into the properly enthusiastic frame of mind. 
After all, it was a great work that he had under- 
taken. I was too much given to dwell upon in- 
tellectual gifts. These the Due seemed to lack. 
I credited him with having let them be merged 
in his one noble idea. 

He furnished me with statistics. They had laid 
down so many miles of railways, used so many 
engines of British construction. They had 
taught the natives to use and to value sewing- 
machines and European costumes. So many 
hundred of English younger sons had gone to 
make their fortunes and, incidentally, to enlighten 
the Esquimaux — ^so many hundreds of French, 
of Germans, Greeks, Russians. All these lived 
and moved in harmony, employed, happy, free la- 
bourers, protected by the most rigid laws. Man- 
eating, fetich-worship, slavery had been abolished, 
stamped out. The great international society for 
the preservation of Polar freedom watched over 
dll> suggested new laws, modified the old. The 
country was unhealthy, but not to men of dean 
lives — hominibus bona voluntc^Us. It asked for 
no others. 

1 148 J 


"I have had to endure much misrepresent 
tation. I have been called names," the Due 

The figure of the lady danced before my eyes, 
lithe, supple — 3, statue endued with the motion of 
a serpent. I seemed to see her sculptured white 
hand pointing to the closed door. 

" Ah, yes," I said, " but one knows the people 
that call you names." 

" Well, then," he answered, " it is your task to 
make them know the truth. Your nation has so 
much power. If it will only realise." 

" I will do my best," I said. 

I saw the apotheosis of the Press — 2l Press that 
makes a State Founder suppliant to a man like 
myself. For he had the tone of a deprecating 
petitioner. I stood between himself and a people, 
the arbiter of the peoples, of the kings of the 
future. I was nothing, nobody; yet here I stood 
in communion with one of those who change the 
face of continents. He had need of me, of the 
power that was behind me. It was strange to be 
alone in that room with that man — ^to be there 
just as I might be in my own little room alone 
with any other man. 



I was not unduly elated, you must understand. 
It was nothing to me. I was just a person elected 
by some suffrage of accidents. Even in my own 
eyes I was merely a symbol — ^the sign visible of 
incomprehensible power. 

" I will do my best/' I said. 

" Ah, yes, do," he said, " Mr. Churchill told me 
how nicely you can do such things." 

I said that it was very kind of Mr. Churchill. 
The tension of the conversation was relaxed. The 
Due asked if I had yet seen my aunt. 
I had forgotten her," I said. 
Oh, you must see her," he said; "she is a 
most remarkable lady. She is one of my relaxa- 
tions. All Paris talks about her^ I can assure 

" I had no idea," I said. 

"Oh, cultivate her," he said; "you will be 

" I will," I said, a§ I took my leave. 

I went straight home to my little room above 
the roofs. I began at once to write my article, 
working at high pressure, almost hysterically. I 
remember that place and that time so well. In 
moments of emotion one gazes fixedly at thingSr 



hardly conscious of them. Afterward one re- 

I can still see the narrow room, the bare, brown, 
discoloured walls, the incongruous marble clock 
on the mantel-piece, the single rickety chair that 
swayed beneath me. I could almost draw the 
tortuous pattern of the faded cloth that hid the 
round table at which I sat. The ink was thick, 
pale, and sticky; the pen spluttered. I wrote 
furiously, anxious to be done with it. Once I 
went and leaned over the balcony, trying to hit 
on a word that would not come. Miles down 
below, little people crawled over the cobbled 
street, little carts rattled, little workmen let down 
casks into a cellar. It was all very grey, small, 
and clear. 

Through the open window of an opposite gar- 
ret I could see a sculptor working at a colossal 
clay model. In his white blouse he seemed big, 
out of all proportion to the rest of the world. 
Level with my eyes there were flat lead roofs 
and chimneys. On one of these was scrawled, 
in big, irregular, blue-painted letters: *' A has 

Great clouds began to loom into view over 


the house-tops, rounded, toppling masses of 
grey, lit up with sullen orange against the pale 
limpid blue of the sky. I stood and looked 
at all these objects. I had come out here to 
think — thoughts had deserted me. I could only 

The clouds moved imperceptibly, fatefuUy 
onward, a streak of lightning tore them apart. 
They whirled like tortured smoke and grew sud- 
denly black. Large spots of rain with jagged 
edges began to fall on the lead floor of my 

I turned into the twilight of my room and be- 
gan to write. I can still feel the tearing of my 
pen-point on the coarse paper. It was a hin- 
drance to thought, but my flow of words ignored 
it, gained impetus from it, as a stream does at 
the breaking of a dam. 

I was writing a paean to a great coloniser. 
That sort of thing was in the air then. I was 
drawn into it, carried away by my subject. Per- 
haps I let it do so because it was so little familiar 
to my lines of thought. It was fresh ground and 
I revelled in it. I committed myself to that kind 
of emotional, lyrical outburst that one dislikes so 



much on re-reading. I was half conscious of the 
fact, but I ignored it. 

The thunderstorm was over, and there was a 
moist sparkling freshness in the air when I hur- 
ried with my copy to the Hour office in the 
Avenue de TOpera. I wished to be rid of it, to 
render impossible all chance of revision on the 

I wanted, too, to feel elated; I expected it. It 
was a right. At the office I found the foreign 
correspondent, a little cosmopolitan Jew whose 
eyebrows began their growth on the bridge of 
his nose. He was effusive and familiar, as the 
rest of his kind. 

" Hullo, Granger," was his greeting. I was 
used to regarding myself as fallen from a high 
estate, but I was not yet so humble in spirit as to 
relish being called Granger by a stranger of his 
stamp. I tried to freeze him politely. 

"Read your stuff in the Hour,'' was bis re* 
jdnder; "jolly good I call it. Been doing old 
Red-Beard? Let's have a look. Yes, yes. 
That's the way — that's the real thing — I call it. 
Must have bored you to death . . . old 
de Mersch I mean. I ought to have had the job^ 

1 153 1 


you know. My business, interviewing people in 
Paris. But / don't mind. Much rather you did 
it than I. You do it a heap better." 

I murmured thanks. There was a pathos 
about the sleek little man — sl pathos that is al- 
ways present in the type. He seemed to be try- 
ing to assume a deprecating equality. 

" Where are you going to-night? " he asked, 
with sudden effusiveness. I was taken aback. 
One is not used to being asked these questions 
after five minutes' acquaintance. I said that I 
had no plans. 

" Look here," he said, brightening up, " come 
and have dinner with me at Brcguet's, and look 
in at the Opera afterward. We'll have a real 
nice chat." 

I was too tired to frame an adequate excuse. 
Besides, the little man was as eager as a child for 
a new toy. We went to Breguet's and had a 
really excellent dinner. 

"Always come here," he said; "one meets a 
lot of swells. It runs away with a deal of mdney 
— but I don't care to do things on the cheap, not 
for the Hour, you know. You can always be 
certain when I say that I have a thing from a 
senator that he is a senator, and not an old 

1 154 1. 


woman in a paper kiosqne. Most of them do 
that sort of thing, you know." 

" I always wondered/' I said, mildly. 

" That's de Sourdam I nodded to as we came 
in, and that old chap there is Pluyvis — ^the Af- 
faire man, you know. I must have a word with 
him in a minute, if you'll excuse me." 

He began to ask affectionately after the health 
of the excellent Fox, asked if I saw him often, 
and so on and so on. I divined with amusement 
that was pleasurable that the little man had his 
own little axe to grind, and thought I might take 
a turn at the grindstone if he managed me well. 
So he nodded to de Sourdam of the Austrian em- 
bassy and had his word with Pluyvis, ai^d rejoiced 
to have impressed me — I could see him bubble 
with happiness and purr. He proposed that we 
should stroll as far as the paper kiosque that he 
patronised habitually — ^it was kept by a fellow- 
Israelite — ^ snuffy little old woman. 

I understood that in the joy of his heart he 
was for expanding, for wasting a few minutes on 
a stroll. 

" Haven't stretched my legs for months," he 

We strolled there through the summer twi- 

[ 155 1 


light. It was so pleasant to saunter through the 
young summer night. There were so many lit- 
tle things to catch the eyes, so many of the little 
things down near the earth; expressions on faces 
of the passers, the set of a collar, the quaint 
foreign tightness of waist of a good bourgeoise 
who walked arm in arm with her perspiring 
spouse. The gilding on the statue of Joan of 
Arc had a pleasant littleness of Philistinism, the 
arcades of the Rue de Rivoli broke up the grey 
light pleasantly too. I remembered a little shop 
— a little Greek affair with a windowful of pinch- 
beck — ^where I had been given a false five-franc 
piece years and years ago. The same villainous 
old Levantine stood in the doorway, perhaps the 
fez that he wore was the same fez. The little 
old woman that we strolled to was bent nearly 
double. Her nose touched her wares as often as 
not> her mittened hands sought quiveringly the 
papers that tlfe correspondent asked for. I liked 
him the better for his solicitude for this forlorn 
piece of flotsam of his own race. 

" Always come here," he exclaimed; " one gets 
into habits. Very honest woman, too, you can 
be certain of getting your change. If you're a 



stranger you can't be sure that they won't giye 
you Italian silver, you know." 

" Oh, I know," I answered. I knew, too, that 
he wished me to purchase something. I followed 
the course of her groping hands, caught sight of 
the Revise Rouge, and remembered that it con- 
tained something about Greenland. I helped 
myself to it, paid for it, and received my just 
change. I felt that I had satisfied the little man, 
and felt satisfied with myself. 

" I want to see Radet's article on Greenland," 
I said. 

" Oh, yes," he explained, once more exhibiting 
himself in the capacity of the man who knows, 
" Radet gives it to them. Rather a lark, I call 
it, though you mustn't let old de Mersch know 
you read him. Radet got sick of Cochin, and 
tried Greenland. He's getting touched by the 
Whites you know. They say that the priests 
don't like the way the Systeme's playing into the 
hands of the Protestants and the English Govern- 
ment. So they set Radet on to write it down. 
He's going in for mysticism and all that sort of 
thing — ^just like all these French jokers are doing. 
Got deuced thick with that lot in the F. St. Ger- 



main — some relation of yours, ain't they? Rather 
a lark that lot, quite the thing just now, everyone 
goes there; old de Mersch too. Have frightful 
rows sometimes, such a mixed lot, you see." The 
good little man rattled amiably along beside me. 

" Seems quite funny to be buying books," he 
said. " I haven't read a thing I've bought, not 
for years." 

We reached the Opera in time for the end of 
the first act — it was Aida, I think. My little 
friend had a free pass all over the house. I had 
not been in it for years. In the old days I had 
always seen the stage from a great height, cran- 
ing over people's heads in a sultry twilight; now 
I saw it on a level, seated at my ease. I had only 
the power of the Press to thank for the change. 

" Come here as often as I can," my companion 
said; " can't do without music when it's to be 
had." Indeed he had the love of his race (or it. 
It seemed to soften him, to change his nature, as 
he sat silent by my side. 

But the closing notes of each scene found him 
out in the cool of the corridors, talking, and be- 
ing talked to by anyone that would vouchsafe 
him a word. 



*' Pick up a lot here>" he explained. 

After the finale we leaned over one of the side 
balconies to watch the crowd streaming down 
the marble staircases. It is a scene that I never 
tire of. There is something so fantastically 
tawdry in the coloured marble of the architecture. 
It is for all the world like a triumph of ornamental 
soap work; one expects to smell the odours. 
And the torrent of humanity pouring liquidly 
aslant through the mirror-like light, and the 
spaciousness . . . Yes, it is fantastic, some- 
how; ironical, too. 

I was watching the devious passage of a rather 
drunken, gigantic, florid Englishman, wonder- 
ing, I think, how he would reach his bed. 

" That must be a relation of yours," the cor- 
respondent said, pointing. My gldnce followed 
the line indicated by his pale finger. I made out 
the glorious beard of the Due de Mersch, on his 
arm was an old lady to whom he seemed to pay 
deferential attention. His head was bent on one 
side; he was smiling frankly. A little behind 
them, on the stairway, there was a space. Per- 
haps I was mistaken; perhaps there was no space 
— I don't know. I was only conscious of a figure, 



an indescribably clear-cut woman's figure, glid- 
ing down the way. It had a coldness, a self-pos- 
session, a motion of its own. In that clear, trans- 
parent, shimmering light, every little fold of the 
dress, every little shadow of the white arms, the 
white shoulders, came up to me. The face turned 
up to meet mine. I remember so well the light 
shining down on the face, not a shadow anywhere, 
not a shadow beneath the eyebrows, the nostrils, 
the waves of hair. It was a vision of light, 
theatening, sinister. 

She smiled, her lips parted. 

" You come to me to-morrow," she said. Did 
I hear the words, did her lips merely form 
them? She was far, far down below me; the air 
was alive with the rustling of feet, of garments, 
of laughter, full of sounds that made them- 
selves heard, full of sounds that would not be 

" You come to me . . • to-morrow." 

The old lady on the Due de Mersch's arm was 
obviously my aunt. I did not see why I should 
not go to them to-morrow. It struck me sud- 
denly and rather pleasantly that this was, after all, 
my family. This old lady actually was a connec- 



tion more close than anyone else in the world. 
As for the girl, to all intents and, in everyone 
else's eyes, she was my sister. I cannot say I dis- 
liked having her for my sister, either. I stood 
looking down upon them and felt less alone than 
I had done for many years. 

A minute scuffle of the shortest duration was 
taking place beside me. There were a couple of 
men at my elbow. I don't in the least know what 
they were— perhaps marquises, perhaps railway 
employees— one never can tell over there. One 
of them was tall and blond, with a heavy, bow- 
shaped red moustache — Irish in type; the other 
of no particular height, excellently groomed, 
dark, and exemplary. I knew he was exemplary 
from some detail of costume that I can't remem- 
ber — his gloves or a strip of silk down the sides 
of his trousers — ^something of the sort. The 
blond was saying something that I did not catch. 
I heard the words " de Mersch " and " Anglaise/^ 
and saw the dark man turn his attention to the 
little group below. Then I caught my own name 
mispronounced and somewhat of a stumbling- 
block to a high-pitched contemptuous intonation. 
The little correspondent, who was on my other 

[ i6i 1 


arm, started visibly and moved swiftly behind 
my back. 

" Messieurs^'* he said in an urgent whisper, and 
drew them to a little distance. I saw him say 
something, saw them pivot to look at me, shrug 
their shoulders and walk away. I didn't in the 
least grasp the significance of the scene — ^not 

" What's the matter? " I asked my returning 
friend; " were they talking about me? " He an- 
swered nervously. 

" Oh, it was about your aunt's Salon, you 
know. They might have been going to say 
something awkward ... one never knows." 

"They really do talk about it then?" I said. 
"I've a good mind to attend one of their exhibi* 

"Why, of course," he said, "you ought. I 
really think you ought'' 

" ril go to-morrow," I answered. 



I COULDN'T get to sleep that night, but lay 
and tossed, lit my candle and read, and so on, 
forever and ever — for an eternity. I was 
confoundedly excited; there were a hundred 
things to be thought about; clamouring to be 
thought about; out-clamouring the re-current 
chimes of some near clock. I began to read the 
article by Radet in the Revue Rouge — the one I 
had bought of the old woman in the kiosque. It 
upset me a good deal — ^that article. It gave away 
the whole Greenland show so completely that the 
ecstatic bosh I had just despatched to the 
Hour seemed impossible. I suppose the good 
Radet had Tiis axe to grind — ^just as I had had 
to grind the State Founder's, but Radet's axe 
didn't show. I was reading about an inland val- 
ley, a broad, shadowy, grey thing; immensely 
broad, immensely shadowy, winding away be- 
tween immense, half-invisible mountains into the 
silence of an unknown country. A little band of 



men, microscopic figures in that immensity, in 
those mists, crept slowly up it. A man among 
them was speaking; I seemed to hear his voice, 
low, monotonous, overpowered by the wan light 
and the silence and the vastness. 

And how well it was done — how the man could 
write; how skilfully he made his points. There 
was no slosh about it, no sentiment. The touch 
was light, in places even gay. He saw so well 
the romance of that dun band that had cast re- 
morse behind ; that had no return, no future, that 
spread desolation desolately. This was merely a 
review article — a thing that in England would 
have been unreadable; the narrative of a nomad 
of some genius. I could never have written like 
that — I should have spoilt it somehow. It set 
me tingling with desire, with the desire that 
transcends the sexual; the desire for the fine 
phrase, for the right word — ^for all the other in- 
tangibles. And I had been wasting all this time; 
had been writing my inanities. I must go away; 
must get back, right back to the old road, must 
work. There was so little time. It was un- 
pleasant, too, to have been mixed up in this affair, 
to have been trepanned into doing my best to help 




it on its foul way. God knows I had little of the 
humanitarian in me. If people must murder in 
the by-ways of an immense world, they must do 
murder and pay the price. But that I should 
have been mixed up in such was not what I had 
wanted. I must have done with it all; with all 
this sort of thing, must get back to my old self, 
must get back. I seemed to hear the slow words 
of the Due de Mersch. 

" We have increased the exports by so much; 
the innports by so much. We have protected tlic 
natives, have kept their higher interests ever 
present in our minds. And through it all wc 
have never forgotten the mission entrusted to us 
by Europe — to remove the evil of darkness from 
the earth — to root out barbarism with its name- 
less horrors, whose existence has been a blot on 
our consciences. Men of good-will and self- 
sacrifice are doing it now — are laying down 
their priceless lives to root out ... to root 
out . . ." 

Of course they were rooting them out. 

It didn't very much matter to me. One sup- 
poses that that sort of native exists for that sort 
of thing — to be rooted out by men of good-will, 



with careers to make. The point was that that 
was what they were really doing out there — ^root- 
ing out the barbarians as well as the barbarism, 
and proving themselves worthy of their hire. And 
I had been writing them up and was no better 
than the farcical governor of a department who 
would write on the morrow to protest that that 
was what they did not do. You see I had a sort 
of personal pride in those days ; and preferred to 
think of myself as a decent person. I knew that 
people would say the same sort of thing about 
me that they said about all the rest of them. I 
couldn't very well protest. I had been scratch- 
ing the backs of all sorts of creatures; out of 
friendship, out of love — for all sorts of reasons. 
This was only a sort of last straw — or perhaps it 
was the sight of her that had been the last straw. 
It seemed naively futile to have been wasting my 
time over Mrs. Hartly and those she stood for, 
when there was something so different in the 
world — something so like a current of east wind. 
That vein of thought kept me awake, and a 
worse came to keep it company. The men from 
the next room came home — students, I suppose. 
They talked gaily enough, their remarks inter- 



spersed by the thuds of falling boots and the other 
incomprehensible noises of the night. Through 
the flimsy partition I caught half sentences in 
that sort of French intonation that is so impos- 
sible to attain. It reminded me of the voices of 
the two men at the Opera. I began to wonder 
what they had been saying — what they could 
have been saying that concerned me and affected 
the little correspondent to interfere. Suddenly 
the thing dawned upon me with the startling 
clearness of a figure in a complicated pattern — ^a 
clearness from which one cannot take one's eyes. 
It threw everything — ^the whole world — into 
more unpleasant relations with me than even the 
Greenland affair. They had not been talking 
about my aunt and her Salon, but about my 
. . . my sister. She was de Mersch's "^n- 
glaise" I did not believe it, but probably all 
Paris — ^the whole world — said she was. And to 
the whole world I was her brother ! Those two 
men who had looked at me: over their shoulders 
had shrugged and said, " Oh, he*s . . ." And 
the whole world wherever I went would whisper 
in asides, *' Don't you know Granger? He's the 
brother. De Mersch employs him/' 



I began to understand everything; the woman 
in de Mersch's room with her " Eschingan-Gran- 
geur-r-r"; the deference of the little Jew — the 
man who knew. He knew that I — that I, who 
patronised him, was a person to stand well with 
because of my — my sister's hold over de Mersch. 
I wasn't, of course, but you can't understand how 
the whole thing maddened me all the same. I 
hated the world — this world of people who whis- 
pered and were whispered to, of men who knew 
and men who wanted to know — the shadowy 
world of people who didn't matter, but whose eyes 
and voices were all round one and did somehow 
matter. I knew well enough how it had come 
about. It was de Mersch — ^the State Founder, 
with his shamed face and his pallid hands. She 
had been attracted by his* air of greatness, by his 
elective grand-dukedom, by his protestations. 
Women are like that. She had been attracted 
and didn't know what she was doing, didn't know 
what the world was over here — how people talked. 
She had been excited by the whirl and flutter of 
it, and perhaps she didn't care. The thing must 
come to an end, however. She had said that I 
should go to her on the morrow. Well, I would 



go, and I would put a stop to this. I had sud- 
denly discovered how very much I was a Granger 
of Etchingham, after all I had family traditions 
and graves behind me. And for the sake of all 
these people whose one achievement had been the 
making of a good name I had to intervene now. 
After all — *' Bon sang w^" — does not get itself 
talked about in that way. 

The early afternoon of the morrow found me 
in a great room — a faded, sombre salon of the 
house my aunt had taken in the Faubourg Saint 
Germain. Niunbers of strong-featured people 
were talking in groups among the tables and 
chairs of a time before the Revolution. I rather 
forget how I had got there, and what had gone 
before. I must have arisen late and passed the 
intervening hours in a state of trepidation. I was 
going to see her, and I was like a cub in love, with 
a man's place to fill. It was a preposterous state 
of things that set the solid world in a whirl. 
Once there, my eyes suddenly took in things. 

I had a sense of her standing by my side. She 
had just introduced me to my aunt — d. heavy- 
featured, tired-eyed village tyrant. She was so 
obviously worn out, so obviously ** not what she 

1 169] 


had been/' that her face would have been pitiful 
but for its immovable expression of class pride. 
The Grangers of Etchingham, you see, were so 
absolutely at the top of their own particular kind 
of tree that it was impossible for them to meet 
anyone who was not an inferior. A man might 
be a cabinet minister, might even be a prince, 
but he couldn't be a Granger of Etchingham, 
couldn't have such an assortment of graves, each 
containing a Granger, behind his back. The ex- 
pression didn't even lift for me who had. It 
couldn't, it was fixed there. One wondered 
what she was doing in this gaUre. It seemed 
impossible that she should interest herself in the 
restoration of the Bourbons — ^they were all very 
well, but they weren't even English, let alone a 
county family. I figured it out that she must 
have set her own village so much in order that 
there remained nothing but the setting in order 
of the rest of the world. Her bored eyes wan- 
dered sleepily over the assemblage. They seemed 
to have no preferences for any of them. They 
rested on the vacuously Bonaparte prince, on the 
moribund German Jesuit to whom he was listen- 
ing, on the darkly supple young Spanish priest, 



on the rosy-gilled English Passionist, on Radet, 
the writer of that article in the Revue Rouge, 
who was talking to a compatriot in one of the 
tall windows. She seemed to accept the satur- 
nine-looking men, the political women, who all 
spoke a language not their own, with an accent 
and a fluency, and a dangerous far-away smile 
and a display of questionable teeth all their own. 
She seemed to class the political with the pious, 
the obvious adventurer with the seeming fanatic. 
It was amazing to me to see her there, standing 
with her county family self-possession in the 
midst of so much that was questionable. She 
offered me no explanation; I had to find one for 

We stood and talked in the centre of the room. 
It did not seem a place in which one could sit. 

" Why have you never been to see me? " she 
asked languidly. " I might never have known 
of your existence if it had not been for your sis- 
ter." My sister was standing at my side, you 
must remember. I don't suppose that I started, 
but I made my aunt no answer. 

" Indeed," she went on, " I should never have 
known that you had a sister. Your father was 



80 very peculiar. From the day he married, my 
husband never heard a word from him." 

"They were so very different," I said, list- 

" Ah, yes," she answered, " brothers so often 
are." She sighed, apropos of nothing. She con- 
tinued to utter disjointed sentences from which 
I gathered a skeleton history of my soi distant 
sister's introduction of herself and of her preten- 
sions. She had, it seemed, casually introduced 
herself at some garden-party or function of the 
sort, had represented herself as a sister of my own 
to whom a maternal uncle had left a fabulous fort- 
une. She herself had suggested her being shelt- 
ered under my aunt's roof as a singularly wel- 
come " paying guest." She herself, too, had sug- 
gested the visit to Paris and had hired the house 
from a degenerate Due de Luynes who preferred 
the delights of an appartetnent in the less lugu- 
brious Avenue Marceau. 

" We have tastes so much in common," my 
aunt explained, as she moved away to welcome 
a new arrival. I was left alone with the woman 
who called herself my sister. 

We stood a little apart. ' Each little group of 



talkers in the vast room seemed to stand just with- 
out earshot of the next. I had my back to the 
door, my face to her. 

" And so you have come," she said, maliciously 
it seemed to me. 

It was impossible to speak in such a position; 
in such a place; impossible to hold a discussion 
on family affairs when a diminutive Irishwoman 
with too mobile eyebrows, and a couple of gigan- 
tic, raw-boned, lugubrious Spaniards, were in a 
position to hear anything that one uttered above 
a whisper. One might want to raise one's voice. 
Besides, she was so — so terrible; there was no 
knowing what she might not say. She so obvi- 
ously did not care what the Irish or the Spaniards 
or the Jesuits heard or thought, that I was forced 
to the mortifying conclusion that I did. 

" Oh, I've come," I answered. I felt as out- 
rageously out of it as one does at a suburban hop 
where one does not know one animal of the 
menagerie. I did not know what to do or what 
to say, or what to do with my hands. I was per- 
vaded by the unpleasant idea that all those 
furtive eyes were upon me; gauging me because 
I was the brother of a personality. I was con- 



cemed about the fit of my coat and my boots, and 
all the while I was in a furious temper; my errand 
was important. 

She stood looking at me, a sinuous, brilliant 
thing, with a light in the eyes half challenging, 
half openly victorious. 

" You have come," she said, " and . . . " 

1 became singularly afraid of her; and wanted 
to stop her mouth. She might be going to say 
an)rthing. She overpowered me so that I actu- 
ally dwindled — ^into the gawkiness of extreme 
youth. I became a goggle-eyed, splay-footed 
boy again and made a boy's desperate effort after 
a recovery at one stroke of an ideal standard of 

*' I must have a word with you," I said, remem- 
bering. She made a little gesture with her 
hands, signifying " I am here." " But in pri- 
vate," I added. 

" Oh, everything's in private here," she said. 
I was silent. 

" I must," I added after a time. 

" I can't retire with you," she said; " ' it would 
look odd,' you'd say, wouldn't you? I shrugged 
my shoulders in intense irritation. I didn't want 



to be burlesqued. A flood of fresh people came 
into the room. I heard a throaty " ahem " be- 
hind me. The Due de Mersch was introducing 
himself to notice. It was as I had thought — 
the man was an habitue, with his well-cut clothes, 
his air of protestation, and his tremendous golden 
poll. He was the only sunlight that the gloomy 
place rejoiced in. He bowed low over my op- 
pressor's hand, smiled upon me, and began to 
utter platitudes in English. 

" Oh, you may speak French," she said care- 

" But your brother . . ." he answered. 

" I understand French very well," I said. I 
was in no mood to spare him embarrassments; 
wanted to show him that I had a hold over him, 
and knew he wasn't the proper person to talk to a 
young lady. He glared at me haughtily. 

" But yesterday . . ." he began in a tone 
that burlesqued august displeasure. I was won- 
dering what he had looked like on the other side 
of the door — whilst that lady had been explain- 
ing his nature to me. 

" Yesterday I wished to avoid embarrass- 
ments," I said; " I was to represent your views 



about Greenland. I might have misunderstood 
you in some important matter." 

" I see, I see," he said conciliatorily. " Yes- 
terday we spoke English for the benefit of the 
British public. When we speak French we are 
not in public, I hope." He had a semi-supplicat- 
ing manner. 

" Everything's rather too much in public 
here," I answered. My part as I imagined it was 
that of a British brother defending his sister from 
questionable attentions — the person who " tries 
to show the man he isn't wanted." But de 
Mersch didn't see the matter in that light at all. 
He could not, of course. He was as much used 
to being purred to as my aunt to looking down on 
non-county persons. He seemed to think I was 
making an incomprehensible insular joke, and 
laughed non-committally. It wouldn't have been 
possible to let him know he wasn't wanted. 

" Oh, you needn't be afraid of my brother,'* 
she said suddenly. " He is quite harmless. He 
is even going to give up writing for the papers 
except when we want him." 

The Due turned from me to her, smiled and 
bowed. His smile was inane, but he bowed very 



well; he had been groomed intc that sort of thing 
or had it in the blood. 

" We work together still? " he asked. 

" Why not? " she answered. 

A hubbub of angry voices raised itself behind 
my back. It was one of the contretemps that 
made the Salon Grangeur famous throughout the 

" You forced yourself upon me. Did I say 
anywhere that you were responsible? If it re- 
sembles your particular hell upon earthy what is 
that to me? You do worse things; you, your- 
self, monsieur. Haven't I seen . . . haven't 
I seen it? " 

The Due de Mersch looked swiftly over his 
shoulder toward the window. 

" They seem to be angry there," he said ner- 
vously. " Had not something better be done, 
Miss Granger? " 

Miss Granger followed the direction of his 

" Why," she said, " we're used to these differ- 
ences of opinion. Besides, it's only Monsieur 
Radet; he's forever at war with someone or 



" He ought to be shown the door/* the Due 

" Oh, as for that," she answered, " we couldn't. 
My aunt would be desolated by such a necessity. 
He is very influential in certain quarters. My 
aunt wants to catch him for the — He's going 
to write an article." 

" He writes too many articles," the Due said, 
with heavy displeasure. 

"Oh, he has written one too many," she an- 
swered, " but that can be traversed . . ." 

"But no one believes," the Due objected 
. . . Radet's voice intermittently broke in 
upon his soHo voce, coming to our ears in gusts. 

"Haven't I seen you . . . and then 
. • . and you offer me the cross ... to 
bribe me to silence . . . me . . ." 

In the general turning of faces toward the win- 
dow in which stood Radet and the other, mine 
turned too. Radet was a cadaverous, weather- 
worn, passion-worn individual, badger-grey, and 
worked up into a grotesquely attitudinised fury 
of injured self-esteem. The other was a dena- 
tionalised, shifty-eyed, sallow, grey-bearded gov- 
ernor of one of the provinces of the Systeme 



Groenlandais; had a closely barbered head, a bull 
neck, and a great belly. He cast furtive glances 
round him, uncertain whether to escape or to 
wait for his say. He looked at the ring that en- 
circled the window at a little distance, and his 
face, which had betrayed a half-apparent shame, 
hardened at sight of the cynical masks of the cos- 
mopolitan conspirators. They were amused by 
the scene. The Holsteiner gained confidence, 
shrugged his shoulders. 

" You have had the fever very badly since you 
came back," he 3aid, showing a level row of 
white teeth. " You did not talk like that out 

" No— •/^(w si bete — ^you would have hanged 
me, perhaps, as you did that poor devil of a Swiss. 
What was his name? Now you offer me the 
cross. Because I had the fever, heinf " 

I had been watching the Duc*s face; a first 
red flush had come creeping from under the roots 
of his beard, and had spread over the low fore- 
head and the sides of the neck. The eyeglass 
fell from the eye, a signal for the colour to re- 
treat. The full lips grew pallid, and began to 
mutter unspoken words. His eyes wandered ap- 


pealingly from the woman beside him to me. / 
didn't want to look him in the face. The man 
was a trafficker in human blood, an evil liver, and 
I hated him. He had to pay his price; would 
have to pay — ^but I didn't want to see him pay it. 
There was a limit. 

I began to excuse myself, and slid out between 
the groups of excellent plotters. As I was go- 
ing, she said to me : 

"You may come to me to-morrow in the 




I WAS at the Hotel de Luynes— or Granger 
—early on the following morning. The 
mists were still hanging about the dismal 
upper windows of the inscrutable Faubourg; the 
toilet of the city was being completed ; the little 
hoses on wheels were clattering about the quiet 
larger streets. I had not much courage thus 
early in the day. I had started impulsively; step- 
ping with the impulse of immediate action from 
the doorstep of the dairy where I had break- 
fasted. But I made detours; it was too early, 
and my pace slackened into a saunter as I passed 
the row of porters' lodges in that dead, inscrut- 
able street. I wanted to fly; had that impulse 
very strongly; but I burnt my boats with my 
inquiry of the incredibly ancient, one-eyed por- 
teress. I made my way across the damp court- 
yard, under the enormous portico, and into the 
chilly stone hall that no amount of human com- 
ing and going sufficed to bring back to a sem- 



blance of life. Mademoiselle was expecting me. 
One went up a great flight of stone steps into 
one of the immensely high, narrow, impossibly 
rectangular ante-rooms that one sees in the 
frontispieces of old plays. The furniture looked 
no more than knee-high until one discovered that 
one's self had no appreciable stature. The sad 
light slanted in ruled lines from the great height 
of the windows; an army of motes moved slowly 
in and out of the shadows. I went after awhile 
and looked disconsolately out into the court-yard. 
The porteress wsls making her way across the 
gravelled space, her arms, her hands, the pockets 
of her black apron full of letters of all sizes. I 
remembered that the facteur had followed me 
down the street. A noise of voices came con- 
fusedly to my cars from between half-opened fold- 
ing-doors; the thing reminded me of my waiting 
in de Mersch's rooms. It did not last so long. 
The voices gathered tone, as they do at the end 
of a colloquy, succeeded each other at longer in- 
tervals, and at last came to a sustained halt. The 
tall doors moved ajar and she entered, followed 
by a man whom I recognized as the governor of 
a province of the day before. In that hostile 



light he looked old and weazened and worried;^ 
seemed to have lost much of his rotundity. As 
for her, she shone with a light of her own. 

He greeted me dejectedly, and did not bright- 
en when she let him know that we had a mutual 
friend in Callan. The Governor, it seemed, in 
his capacity of Supervisor of the Systeme, was to 
conduct that distinguished person through the 
wilds of Greenland; was to smooth his way and 
to point out to him excellences of administration. 

I wished him a good journey; he sighed and 
began to fumble with his hat. 

'' AlorSy c'est entendu/' she said; giving him 
leave to depart. He looked at her in an odd sort 
of way, took her hand and applied it to his lips. 

" Cest entendu,'* he said with a heavy sigh, 
drops of moisture spattering from beneath his 
white moustache, " mais . . ." 

He ogled again with infinitesimal eyes and 
went out of the room. He had the air of wish- 
ing to wipe the perspiration from his brows and 
to exclaim, " Quelle femmel " But if he had 
any such wish he mastered it until the door hid 
him from sight. 

" Why the . • ."I began before it had well 



dosed, " do you allow that thing to make love 
to you? *' I wanted to take up my position be- 
fore she could have a chance to make me ridicu- 
lous. I wanted to make a long speech — ^about 
duty to the name of Granger. But the next word 
hung, and, before it came, she had answered: 

" He? — Oh, I'm making use of him." 

"To inherit the earth?" I asked ironically, 
and she answered gravely : 

" To inherit the earth." 

She was leaning against the window, playing 
with the strings of the blinds, and silhouetted 
against the leaden light. She seemed to be, 
physically, a little tired ; and the lines of her figure 
to interlace almost tenderly — to " compose " 
well, after the ideas of a certain school. I knew 
so Uttle of her — only just enough to be in love 
with her — ^that this struck me as the herald of a 
new phase, not so much in her attitude to me as 
in mine to her; she had even then a sort of grav- 
ity, the gravity of a person on whom things were 
beginning to weigh. 

" But," I said, irresolutely. I could not speak 
to her; to this new conception of her, in the way 
I had planned; in the way one would talk to a 



brilliant, limpid — oh, to a woman of sorts. But 
I had to take something of my old line. " How 
would flirting with that man help you? " 

" It's quite simple," she answered, " he*s to 
show Callan all Greenland, and Callan is to 
write . . . Callan has immense influence 
over a great class, and he will have some of the 
prestige of — of a Commissioner." 

Oh, I know about Callan," I said. 

And," she went on, " this man had orders 
to hide things from Callan ; you know what it is 
they have to hide. But he won't now; that is 
what I was arranging. It's partly by bribery and 
partly because he has a belief in his beaux yeux — 
so Callan will' be upset and will write an . • . 
exposure; the sort of thing Callan would write if 
he were well upset. And he will be, by what this 
man will let him see. You know what a little 
man like Callan will feel ... he will be made 
ill. He would faint at the sight of a drop of 
blood, you know, and he will see— oh, the very 
worst, worse than what Radet saw. And he will 
write a frightful article, and it will be a thunder- 
clap for de Mersch . . . And de Mersch will 
be getting very shaky by then. And your friend 


Churchill will try to carry de Mersch^s railway 
bill through in the face of the scandal. Church- 
ill's motives will be excellent, but everyone will 
say . . . You know what people say . . . 
That is what I and Gurnard want. We want 
people to talk; we want them to believe . . ." 
I don't know whether there really was a hesi- 
tation in her voice, or whether I read that into 
it. She stood there, playing with the knots of 
the window-cords and speaking in a low mono- 
tone. The whole thing, the sad twilight of the 
place, her tone of voice, seemed tinged with un- 
availing regret. I had almost forgotten the Di- 
mensionist story, and I had never believed in it. 
But now, for the first time I began to have my 
doubts. I was certain that she had been plotting 
something with one of the Due de Mersch's lieu- 
tenants. The man's manner vouched for that; 
he bad not been able to look me in the face. But, 
more than anything, his voice and manner made 
mc feel that we had passed out of a realm of farci- 
cal allegory. I knew enough to see that she might 
be speaking the truth. And, if she were, her 
calm avowal of such treachery proved that she 
tHHis what she had said the Dimensionists were; 

[186 J 


cold, with no scruples, clear-sighted and admira- 
bly courageous, and indubitably enemies of so- 

"I don't understand," I said. "But de 
Mersch then?" 

^ She made a little gesture ; one of those move- 
ments that I best remember of her; the smallest, 
the least noticeable. It reduced de Mersch to 
nothing; he no longer even counted. 

" Oh, as for him," she said, " he is only a 
detail." I had still the idea that she spoke with 
a pitying intonation — ^as if she were speaking to 
a dog in pain. " He doesn't really count; not 
really. He will crumble up and disappear, very 
soon. Yotli won't even remember him." 

" But," I said, " you go about with him, as if 
you . . . You are getting yourself talked 
about . . . Everyone thinks — ^" . . . The 
accusation that I had come to make seemed im- 
possible, now I was facing her. ** I believe," I 
added, with the suddenness of inspiration. " I'm 
certain even, that he thinks that you . . ." 

" Well, they think that sort of thing. But it 
is only part of the game. Oh, I assure you it is 
no more than that." 



I was silent. I felt that, for one reason or an* 
otheri she wished me to believe. 

" Yes," she said, " I want you to believe. It 
will save you a good deal of pain." 

** If you wanted to save me pain/' I maintained, 
" you would have done with de Mersch . . • 
for good." I had an idea that the solution was 
beyond me. It was as if the controlling powers 
were flitting, invisible, just above my head, just 
beyond my grasp. There was obviously some- 
thing vibrating; some cord, somewhere, stretched 
very taut and quivering. But I could think of 
no better solution than : " You must have done 
with him." It seemed obvious, too, that that 
was impossible, was outside the range of things 
that could be done — ^but I had to do my best. 
" It's a— it's vile," I added, " vile." 

"Oh, I know, I know," she said, "for you 
. . . And Fm even sorry. But it has to be 
gone on with. De Mersch has to go under in 
just this way. It can't be any other." 

" Why not? " I asked, because she had paused. 
I hadn't any desire for enlightenment. 

" It isn't even only Churchill," she said, " not 
even only that de Mersch will bring down 



Churchill with him. It is that he must bring 
down everything that Churchill stands for. You 
know what that is — ^the sort of probity, all the 
old order of things. And the more vile the means 
used to destroy de Mersch the more vile the 
whole affair will seem. People — ^the sort of 
people — ^have an idea that a decent man cannot 
be touched by tortuous intrigues. And the 
whole thing will be— oh, malodorous. You un- 

" I don't," I answered, " I don't understand at 

" Ah, yes, you do," she said, " you understand 
. . ." She paused for a long while, and I was 
silent. I understood vaguely what she meant; 
that if Churchill fell amid the clouds of dust of 
such a collapse, there would be an end of belief 
in probity ... or nearly an end. But I 
could not see what it all led up to; where it left us, 

" You see," she began again, " I want to make 
it as little painful to you as I can; as little pain- 
ful as explanations can make it. I can't feel as 
you feel, but I can see, rather dimly, what it is 
that hurts you. And so ... I want to; I 
really want to." 



" But you won't do the one thing," I returned 
hopelessly to the charge. 

"I cannot," she answered, *'it must be like 
that; there isn't any way. You are so tied down 
to these little things. Don't you see that de 
Mersch, and — ^and all these people — don't really 
count? They aren't anything at all in the scheme 
of things. I think that, even for you, they aren't 
worth bothering about. They're only accidents; 
the accidents that " 

"That what?" I asked, although I began to 
see dimly what she meant. 

"That lead in the inevitable," she answered. 
" Don't you see? Don't you understand? We 
are the inevitable . . . and you can't keep 
us back. We have to come and you, you will 
only hurt yourself, by resisting." A sense that 
this was the truth, the only truth, beset me. It 
was for the moment impossible to think of any- 
thing else — of anything else in the world. " You 
must accept us and all that we mean, you 
must stand back; sooner or later. Look even all 
round you, and you will understand better. You 
are in the house of a type — a type that became 
impossible. Oh, centuries ago. And that type 



too, tried very hard to keep back the inevitable; 
not only because itself went under, but because 
everjrthing that it stood for went under. And 
it had to suffer — ^heartache . . . that sort of 
suffering. Isn't it so? " 

I did not answer; the illustration was too 
abominably just. It was just that. There were 
even now all these people — these Legitimists — 
sneering ineffectually; shutting themselves away 
from the light in their mournful houses and suf- 
fering horribly because everything that they 
stood for had gone under. 

" But even if I believe you," I said, " the thing 
is too horrible, and your tools are too mean ; that 
man who has just gone out and — and Callan— 
are they the weapons of the inevitable? After 
all, the Revolution ..." I was striving to 
get back to tangible ideas — ideas that one could 
name and date and label . .' . " the Revolu- 
tion was noble in essence and made for good. 
But all this of yours is too vile and too petty. 
You are bribing, or something worse, that man 
to betray his master. And that you call helping 
on the inevitable . . ." 

"They used to say just that of the Revolution. 



That wasn't nice of its tools. Don't you sec? 
They were the people that went under . . « 
They couldn't see the good ..." 

" And I — ^I am to take it on trust," I said, bit- 

" You couldn't see the good," she answered, 
"it isn't possible, and there is no way of ex- 
plaining. Our languages are different, and 
there's no bridge — ^no bridge at all. We can't j 
meet . . ." | 

It was that revolted me. If there was no 
bridge and we could not meet, we must even 
fight; that is, if I believed her version of herself. 
If I did not, I was being played the fool with. 
I preferred to think that. If she were only fool- 
ing me she remained attainable. If it was as she 
said, there was no hope at all— not any. 

" I don't believe you," I said, suddenly. I 
didn't want to believe her. The thing was too 
abominable — ^too abominable for words, and in- 
credible. I struggled against it as one struggles 
against inevitable madness, against the thought 
of it. It hung over me, stupefying, deadening. 
One could only fight it with violence, crudely, in 
jerks, as one struggles against the numbness of 



frost. It was like a pall, like descending clouds 
of smoke, seemed to be actually present in the 
absurdly lofty room — this belief in what she stood 
for, in what she said she stood for. 

" I don't believe you," I proclaimed, " I 
won't . . . You are playing the fool with 
me . • . trying to get round me . . . 
to make me let you go on with these — ^with 
these — It is abominable. Think of what it 
means for me, what people are saying of me, and 
I am a decent man — ^You shall not. Do you 
understand, you shall not. It is unbearable 
. . . and you . . . you try to fool me 
. . . in order to keep me quiet . . ." 

" Oh, no," she said. " Oh, no." 

She had an accent that touched grief, as nearly 
as she could touch it. I remember it now, as one 
remembers these things. But then I passed it 
over. I was too much moved myself to notice 
it more than subconsciously, as one notices 
things past which one is whirled. And I was 
whirled past these things, in an ungovernable 
fury at the remembrance of what I had suffered, 
of what I had still to suffer. I was speaking with 
intense rage, jerking out words, ideas, as flood- 



water jerks through a sluice the debris of once 
ordered fields. 

"You are," I said, "you are — ^you — ^you — 
dragging an ancient name through the dust — 
you . . ." 

I forget what I said. But I remember, " drag- 
ging an ancient name." It struck me, at the 
time, by its forlornness, as part of an appeal to 
her. It was so pathetically tiny a motive, so out 
of tone, that it stuck in my mind. I only re- 
member the upshot of my speech; that, unless 
she swore— oh, yes, swore — ^to have done with 
de Mersch, I would denounce her to my aunt at 
that very moment and in that very house. 

And she said that it was impossible. 



1HAD a sense of walking very fast — ^almost 
of taking flight— down a long dim corridor, 
and of a door that opened into an immense 
room. All that I remember of it, as I saw it 
then, was a number of pastel portraits of weak, 
vacuous individuals, in dulled, gilt, oval frames. 
The heads stood out from the panelling and 
stared at me from between ringlets, from under 
powdered hair, simpering, or contemptuous with 
the expression that must have prevailed in the 
monde of the time before the Revolution. At a 
great distance, bent over account - books and 
pink cheques on the flap of an escritoire, sat my 
aunt, very small, very grey, very intent on her 

The people who built these rooms must have 
had some property of the presence to make them 
bulk large — ^if they ever really did so— in the eyes 
of dependents, of lackeys. Perhaps it was their 
sense of ownership that gave them the necessary 
prestige. My aunt, who was only a temporary 



occupanti certainly had none of it. Bent in- 
tently over her accounts, peering through her 
spectacles at columns of figures, she was nothing 
but a little old woman alone in an immense room. 
It seemed impossible that she could really have 
any family pride, any pride of any sort. She 
looked round at me over her spectacles, across 
her shoulder. 

'* Ah . . . Etchingham/' she said. She 
seemed to be tr3dng to carry herself back to Eng- 
land, to the England of her land-agent and her 
select visiting list. Here she was no more su- 
perior than if we had been on a desert island. I 
wanted to enlighten her as to the woman she was 
sheltering — ^wanted to very badly; but a neces- 
sity for introducing the matter seemed to arise 
as she gradually stiffened into assertiveness. 

" My dear aunt," I said, '* the woman . . ." 
The alien nature of the theme grew suddenly for- 
midable. She looked at me arousedly. 

" You got my note then," she said. " But I 
don't think a woman can have brought it. I 
have given such strict orders. They have such 
strange ideas here, though. And Madame — ^the 
partiire — ^is an old retainer of M. de Luynes, I 

1 196] 


haven't much influence over her. It is absurd, 
but . . ." It seems that the old lady in the 
lodge made a point of carrying letters that went 
by hand. She had an eye for gratuities — and 
the police, I should say, were concerned. They 
make a good deal of use of that sort of person 
in that neighbourhood of infinitesimal and un- 
ceasing plotting. 

"I didn't mean that," 1 said, "but the 
woman who calls herself my sister . . ." 

" My dear nephew," she interrupted, with 
tranquil force, as if she were taking an arranged 
line, " I cannot — I absolutely cannot be worried 
with your quarrels with your sister. As I said 
to you in my note of this morning, when you are 
in this town you must consider this house your 
home. It is almost insulting of you to go to an 
inn. I am told it is even . . . quite an unfit 
place that you are stopping at — for a member of 
our family." 

I maintained for a few seconds a silence of 

" But," I returned to the charge, " the matter 
is one of importance. You must understand 
that she . . ." 



My aunt stiffened and froze. It was as if 
I had committed some flagrant sin against eti- 

" If I am satisfied as to her behaviour," she 
said, *' I think that you might be/' She paused 
as if she were satisfied that she had set me hope- 
lessly in the wrong. 

I don't withdraw my invitation," she said. 

You must understand I wish you to come here. 
But your quarrels you and she must settle. On 
those terms . . ." 

She had the air of conferring an immense 
favour, as if she believed that I had, all my life 
through, been waiting for her invitation to come 
within the pale. As for me, I felt a certain relief 
at having the carrying out of my duty made im- 
possible for me. I did not want to tell my aunt 
and thus to break things off definitely and for 
good. Something would have happened; the 
air might have cleared as it clears after a storm; 
I should have learnt where I stood. But I was 
afraid of the knowledge. Light in these dark 
places might reveal an abyss at my feet. I 
wanted to let things slide. 

My aunt had returned to her accounts, the ac- 



counts which were the cog-wheels that kept run- 
ning the smooth course of the Etchingham es- 
tates. She seemed to wish to indicate that I 
counted for not very much in the scheme of 
things as she saw it. 

" I should like to make your better acquaint- 
ance," she said, with her head still averted, " there 
are reasons . . ." It came suddenly into my 
head that she had an idea of testamentary dis- 
positions, that she felt she was breaking up, that 
I had my rights. I didn't much care for the 
thing, but the idea of being the heir of Etching- 
ham was — ^well, was an idea. It would make 
me more possible to my pseudo-sister. It would 
be, as it were, a starting-point, would make me 
potentially a somebody of her sort of ideal. 
Moreover, I should be under the same roof, near 
her, with her sometimes. One asks so little 
more than that, that it seemed almost half the 
battle. I began to consider phrases of thanks 
and acceptance and then uttered them. 

I never quite understood the bearings of that 
scene; never quite whether my aunt really knew 
that my sister was not my sister. She was a 
wonderfully clever woman of the unscrupulous 



order, with a sang-froid and self-possession weD 
calculated to let her cut short any inconvenient 
revelations. It was as if she had had long prac- 
tice in the art, though I cannot say what occasion 
she can have had for its practice — ^perhaps for the 
confounding of wavering avowers of Dissent at 

I used to think that she knew, if not all, at least 
a portion ; that the weight that undoubtedly was 
upon her mind was nothing else but that. She 
broke up, was breaking up from day to day, and 
I can think of no other reason. She had the air 
of being disintegrated, like a mineral under an 
immense weight — quartz in a crushing mill; of 
being dulled and numbed as if she were under 
the influence of narcotics. 

There is little enough wonder, if she actually 
carried that imponderable secret about with her. 
I used to look at her sometimes, and wonder if 
she, too, saw the oncoming of the inevitable. She 
was limited enough in her ideas, but not too 
stupid to take that in if it presented itself. In- 
deed they have that sort of idea rather grimly 
before them all the time — ^that class. 

It must have been that that was daily, and little 



by little, pressing down her eyelids and deepen- 
ing the quivering lines of her impenetrable face. 
She had a certain solitary grandeur, the pathos 
attaching to the last of a race, of a type; the 
air of waiting for the deluge, of listening for an 
inevitable sound — the sound of oncoming 

It was weird, the time that I spent in that 
house — more than weird— deadening. It had 
an extraordinary effect on me — ^an effect that 
my "sister," perhaps, had carefully calculated. 
She made pretensions of that sort later on; said 
that she had been breaking me in to perform 
my allotted task in the bringing on of the inevi- 

I have nowhere come across such an intense 
solitude as there was there, a solitude that threw 
one so absolutely upon one's self and into one's 
self. I used to sit working in one of those tall, 
panelled rooms, very high up in the air. I was 
writing at the series of articles for the BirMonth- 
ly^ for Polehampton. I was to get the atmos- 
phere of Paris, you remember. It was rather 
extraordinary, that process. Up there I seemed 
to be as much isolated from Paris as if I had been 

I 201] 


in — ^well, in Hampton Court. It was almost im- 
possible to write; I had things to think about: 
preoccupations, jealousies. It was true I had a 
living to make, but that seemed to have lost its 
engrossingness as a pursuit, or at least to have 
suspended it. 

The panels of the room seemed to act as a 
sounding-board, the belly of an immense *cello. 
There were never any noises in the house, only 
whispers coming from an immense distance — ^as 
when one drops stones down an unfathomable 
well and hears ages afterward the faint sound of 
disturbed waters. When I look back at that 
time I figure myself as forever sitting with up- 
lifted pen, waiting for a word that would not 
come, and that I did not much care about get- 
ting. The panels of the room would creak 
sympathetically to the opening of the entrance- 
door of the house, the faintest of creaks; people 
would cross the immense hall to the room in 
which they plotted; would cross leisurely, with 
laughter and rustling of garments that after a 
long time reached my ears in whispers. Then 
I would have an access of mad jealousy. I 
wanted to be part of her life, but I could not 



stand that Salon of suspicious conspirators. 
What could I do there? Stand and look at them, 
conscious that they all dropped their voices in- 
stinctively when I came near them? 

That was the general tone of that space of 
time, but, of course, it was not always that. I 
used to emerge now and then to breakfast sym- 
pathetically with my aunt, sometimes to sit 
through a meal with the two of them. I danced 
attendance on them singly; paid depressing calls 
with my aunt; calls on the people in the Fau- 
bourg; people without any individuality other 
than a kind of desiccation, the shrivelled appear- 
ance and point of view of a dried pippin. In 
revenge, they had names that startled one, names 
that recalled the generals and flaneurs of an im- 
possibly distant time; names that could hardly 
have had any existence outside the memoirs of 
Madame de S^vigne, the names of people that 
could hardly have been fitted to do anything 
more vigorous than be reflected in the mirrors 
of the Salle des Glaces. I was so absolutely de- 
pressed, so absolutely in a state of suspended 
animation, that I seemed to conform exactly to 
my aunt's ideas of what was desirable in me as 





an attendant on her at these functions. I used 
to stand behind chairs and talk, like a good 
young man, to the assorted Pires and Abhis who 
were generally present. 

And then I use4 to go home and get the at- 
mospheres of these people. I must have done it 
abominably badly, for the notes that brought 
Polehampton's cheques were accompanied by 
the bravos of that gentleman and the assurances 
that Miss Polehampton liked my work — ^liked it 
very much. 

I suppose I exhibited myself in the capacity of 
the man who knew — ^who could let you into a 
thing or two. After all, anyone could write 
about students' balls and the lakes in the Bois, 
but it took someone to write " with knowledge " 
of the interiors of the barred houses in the Rue 
de rUniversite. 

Then, too, I attended the more showy enter- 
tainments with my sister. I had by now become 
so used to hearing her styled " your sister " that 
the epithet had the quality of a name. She was 
" mademoiselle votre soeur," as she might have 
been Mile. Patience or Hope, without having 
anything of the named quality. What she did at 



the entertainments, the charitable bazaars, the 
dismal dances, the impossibly bad concerts, I 
have no idea. She must have had some purpose, 
for she did nothing without. I myself descended 
into fulfilling the functions of a rudimentarily 
developed chaperon — functions similar in im- 
portance to those performed by the eyes of a 
mole. I had the maddest of accesses of jealousy 
if she talked to a man — and such men— or danced 
with one. And then I was forever screwing my 
courage up and feeling it die away. We used to 
drive about in a coupe, a thing that shut us in- 
exorably together, but which quite as inexorably 
destroyed all opportunities for what . one calls 
making love. In smooth streets its motion was 
too glib, on the pave it rattled too abominably. 
I wanted to make love to her— oh, immensely, 
but I was never in the mood, or the opportunity 
was never forthcoming. I used to have the wild- 
est fits of irritation; not of madness or of depres- 
sion, but of simple wildness at the continual re- 
currence of small obstacles. I couldn't read, 
couldn't bring myself to it. I used to sit and 
look dazedly at the English newspapers — at any 
newspaper but the Hour. De Mersch had, fot 

1 205 ] 


the moment, disappeared. There were troubles 
in his elective grand duchy — ^he had, indeed, con- 
trived to make himself unpopular with the elec- 
tors, excessively unpopular. I used to read 
piquant articles about his embroglio in an Ameri- 
can paper that devoted itself to matters of the 
sort. All sorts of international difficulties were 
to arise if de Mersch were ejected. There was 
some other obscure prince of a rival house, Prus- 
sian or Russian, who had desires for the degree 
of royalty that sat so heavily on de Mersch. In- 
deed, I think there were two rival princes, each 
waiting with portmanteaux packed and mani- 
festos in their breast pockets, ready to pass de 
Mersch's frontiers. 

The grievances of his subjects — so the Paris- 
American Gazette said — were intimately con- 
nected with matters of finance, and de Mersch's 
personal finances and his grand ducal were in- 
extricably mixed up with the wild-cat schemes 
with which he was seeking to make a fortune 
large enough to enable him to laugh at half 
a dozen elective grand duchies. Indeed, de 
Mersch's own portmanteau was reported to be 
packed against the day when British support of 



his Greenland schemes would let him afford to 
laugh at his cantankerous Diet. 

The thing interested me so little that I never 
quite mastered the details of it. I wished th€ 
man no good, but so long as he kept out of my 
way I was not going to hate him actively. Fi- 
nally the affairs of Holstein-Launewitz ceased to 
occupy the papers — the thing was arranged and 
the Russian and Prussian princes unpacked their 
portmanteaux, and, I suppose, consigned their 
manifestos to the flames, or adapted them to the 
needs of other principalities. De Mersch's affairs 
ceded their space in the public prints to the topic 
of the deamess of money. Somebody, some- 
where, was said to be up to something. I used 
to try to read the articles, to master the details, 
because I disliked finding a whole field of 
thought of which I knew absolutely nothing. I 
used to read about the great discount houses 
and other things that conveyed absolutely noth- 
ing to my mind. I only gathered that the said 
great houses were having a very bad time, and 
that everybody else was having a very much 

One day, indeed, the matter was brought home 



to me by the receipt from Polehampton of bills 
instead of my usual cheques. I had a good deal 
of trouble in cashing the things; indeed, people 
seemed to look askance at them. I consulted my 
aunt on the subject, at breakfast. It was the sort 
of thing that interested the woman of business in 
her, and we were always short of topics of con- 

We breakfasted in rather a small room, as 
rooms went there; my aunt sitting at the head of 
the table, with an early morning air of being en 
famille that she wore at no other time of day. It 
was not a matter of garments, for she was not the 
woman to wear a peignoir; but lay, I supposed, 
in her manner, which did not begin to assume 
frigidity until several watches of the day had 

I handed her Polehampton's bills and ex- 
plained that I was at a loss to turn them to ac- 
count; that I even had only the very haziest of 
ideas as to their meaning. Holding the forlorn 
papers in her hand, she began to lecture me on 
the duty of acquiring the rudiments of what she 
called " business habits." 

" Of course you do not require to master de- 
tails to any considerable extent/' she said, '^ but 



& I always have held that it is one of the duties of 

ol a . . ." 

j( She interrupted herself as my sister came into 

^ the room; looked at her, and then held out the 

t papers in her hand. The things quivered a little; 

3 the hand must have quivered too. 

1^ "You are going to Halderschrodt's? " she 

said, interrogatively. " You could get him to ne- 

i gotiate these for Etchingham? " 

[ Miss Granger looked at the papers negligently. 

" I am going this afternoon," she answered. 
" Etchingham can come . . ." She sudden- 
ly turned to me r " So your friend is getting 
shaky," she said. 

" It means that? " I asked. " But I've heard 
that he has done the same sort of thing before." 

" He must have been shaky before," she said, 
" but I daresay Halderschrodt . . ." 

" Oh, it's hardly worth while bothering that 
personage about such a sum," I interrupted. 
Halderschrodt, in those days, was a name that 
suggested no dealings in any sum less than a 

" My dear Etchingham," my aunt interrupted 
in a shocked tone, " it is quite worth his while to 
oblige us . • ." 


" I didn't know," I said. 

That afternoon we drove to Halderschrodt's 
private office, a sumptuous — ^that is the mot juste 
— suite of rooms on the first floor of the house 
next to the Due de Mersch's Sans Souci. I sat 
on a plush-bottomed gilded chair, whilst my 
pseudo-sister transacted her business in an ad- 
joining room — a room exactly corresponding 
with that within which de Mersch had lurked 
whilst the lady was warning me against him. 
A clerk came after awhile, carried me off into 
an enclosure, where my bill was discounted by 
another, and then reconducted me to my plush 
chair. I did not occupy it, as it happened. A 
meagre, very tall Alsatian was holding the door 
open for the exit of my sister. He said nothing 
at all, but stood slightly inclined as she passed 
him. I caught a glimpse of a red, long face, 
very tired eyes, and hair of almost startling 
whiteness — ^the white hair of a comparatively 
young man, without any lustre of any sort — a 
dead white, like that of snow. I remember that 
white hair with a feeling of horror, whilst I have 
almost forgotten the features of the great Baron 
de Halderschrodt. 

I had still some of the feeling of having been 



in contact with a personality of the most colossal 
significance as we went down the red carpet of 
the broad white marble stairs. With one foot on 
the lowest step, the figure of a perfectly clothed, 
perfectly groomed man was standing looking up- 
ward at our descent. I had thought so little of 
him that the sight of the Due de Mersch's face 
hardly suggested any train of emotions. It lit 
up with an expression of pleasure, 

" You,'' he said. 

She stood looking down upon him from the 
altitude of two steps, looking with intolerable 

"So you use the common stairs," she said, 
" one had the idea that you communicated with 
these people through a private door." He 
laughed uneasily, looking askance at me. 

" Oh, I . . ." he said. 

She moved a little to one side to pass him in 
her descent. 

"So things have arranged themselves — 7A 
haSy' she said, referring, I supposed, to the elec- 
tive grand duchy. 

" Oh, it was like a miracle," he answered, " and 
I owed a great deal — a great deal — ^to your 
hints * * •" 



'* You must tell me all about it to-night/' sfie 

De Mersch's face had an extraordinary quality 
that I seemed to notice in all the faces around 
me — a quality of the flesh that seemed to lose all 
luminosity, of the eyes that seemed forever to 
have a tendency to seek the ground, to avoid the 
sight of the world. When he brightened to an- 
swer her it was as if with effort. It seemed as if a 
weight were on the mind of the whole world — z 
preoccupation that I shared without understand- 
ing.. She herself, a certain absent-mindedness 
apart, seemed the only one that was entirely un- 

' As we sat side by side in the little carriage, 
she said suddenly : 

" They are coming to the end of their tether, 
you see." I shrank away from her a little — ^btit 
I did not see and did not want to see. I said so. 
It even seemed to me that de Mersch having got 
over the troubles Id bas, was taking a new lease 
of life. 

"I did think." I said, "a little time ago 
that ..." 

The wheels of the coupe suddenly began to rat- 

[ 212 J 


tie abominably over the cobbles of a narrow 
street. It was impossible to talk, and I was 
thrown back upon myself. I found that I was 
in a temper — in an abominable temper. The 
sudden sight of that man, her method of greeting 
him, the intimacy that the scene revealed • • . 
the whole thing had upset me. Of late, for want 
of any alarms, in spite of groundlessness I had 
had the impression that I was the integral part 
of her life. It was not a logical idea, but strictly 
a habit of mind that had grown up in the desola-^ 
tion of my solitude. 

We passed into one of the larger boulevards, 
and the thing ran silently. 

" That de Mersch was crumbling up,*' she sud- 
denly completed my unfinished sentence; "oh, 
that was only a grumble — ^premonitory. But it 
won't take long now. I have been putting on 
the screw. Halderschrodt will . • . I sup- 
pose he will commit suicide, in a day or two* 
And then the — ^the fun will begin." 

I didn't answer. The thing made no impres- 
sion — ^no mental impression at all. 

[^13 1 


\ cc CUM teU me aH afaoot it to-niebt," sfe 

De Mer^cb's bee lad an extraordinaiy quality 
t-a: I seecsrf to nodce in aH the £aas around 
oe— a q^iZhr of the fiesh that seemed to lose all 
h==>DEtT. of the eyes that seemed forever to 
hjTt a :c:dc3CT to seek the grotmd, to avoid ffie 
Ksbt ci the m-orld. ^^'hen be brightened to an- 
swer her h W2S as if with effort. It seemed as if a 
weight were oq the nand of the whole world-a 
pTKorrrpanca that I shared without underjlafiu- 
n:g- She beneU, a certain absent-mindedne.-- 
apart, seersed the only one that was entirely i: . 

As ** St side by side in the lirtle C3:. 
she said sad Jenly; 

*" Tber are ctnmng to the end of thc\t 
yoQ see." I shrank away from her a i: 
I did not see and did not want to sec. 
Iteren seemed tome that de ,Mer>.!- 
over the troubtes lo bos, was t?.k;'- - 

"I did think." I said, "a ' 
that . . ." 
71»eiriiedsofthecoi;p'^ ■ ■ 

tie diamiEEur; over lie cobi^ie^ - 
ttnti, i wai imposable tc i:_ - 
ttnjBn ia:i ctoe myself. - 1=^^ - 
ID a lanDEi — e an abomEi-" ^^^ 
so66Eii5i^> oilhat man, hc^"c:;ii- ~ 
tern, tie nnsaan- that the s= rrr— 
tbe -Braoe thmt had upsr. t:-. 

ol airv aiannt. in spue :■ r*-"- ~ - 

bad nc impression tiiE,: 1 t_ .. rrr 

of bCT lire. Ii was no; i . jz — 

a habit oi mind that h. , r: " . _ . 
tkm ol my solitude. 

We passed intc air . _-. ^^^ 
aod the thing tel s;:^ 

" That de Mer-^ ■ r —^ . 
denly complete; r — - ;■ 

that was only t r::z-— = .- 
won't take ic: ; _ ^ -. 

the screw. h_ ^' 



_ (1 not 

id she 

I alder- 

,u third 

!i genius 

with the 

,, like the 

..iiLch fore- 

\o(l a chief 

::ie defect of 

;;.ii weakness. 

, r heard them; 

.. dynastic revo- 

iiii was to cause 

1 that had been 

ihe had burked 

ippose — and the 

d Haiderschrodt 

ft high and dry. 


THAT afternoon we had a scene^ and late 
that night another. The memory of the 
former is a little blotted out. Things be- 
gan to move so quickly that, try as I will to ar- 
range their sequence in my mind, I cannot. I 
cannot even very distinctly remember what she 
told me at that first explanation. I must have 
attacked her fiercely — on the score of de Mersch, 
in the old vein ; must have told her that I would 
not in the interest of the name allow her to see 
the man again. She told me things, too, rather 
abominable things, about the way in which she 
had got Halderschrodt into her power and was 
pressing him down. Halderschrodt was 3e 
Mersch's banker-in-chief; his fall would mean de 
Mersch's, and so on. The " so on " in this case 
meant a great deal more. Halderschrodt, ap- 
parently, was the " somebody who was up to 
something " of the American paper — ^that is to 
say the allied firms that Halderschrodt represent- 



cd. I can't remember the details. They were 
too huge and too unfamiliar, and I was too agi- 
tated by my own share in the humanity of it. 
But, in sum, it seemed that the fall of Halder- 
schrodt would mean a sort of incredibly vast 
Black Monday — a frightful thing in the existing 
state of public confidence, but one which did not 
mean much to me. I forget how she said she 
had been able to put the screw on him. Haldert- 
schrodt, as you must remember, was the third 
of his colossal name, a man without much genius 
and conscious of the lack, obsessed with the 
idea of operating some enormous coup, like the 
founder of his dynasty, something in which fore- 
sight in international occurrence played a chief 
part. That idea was his weakness, the defect of 
his mind, and she had played on that weakness, 
I forget, I say, the details, if I ever heard them; 
they concerned themselves with a dynastic revo- 
lution somewhere, a revolution that was to cause 
a slump all over the world, and that had been 
engfineered in our Salon. And she had burked 
the revolution — ^betrayed it, I suppose — ^and the 
consequences did not ensue, and Halderschrodt 
and all the rest of them were left high and dry. 



The whole thing was a matter of under-cur- 
rents that never came to the surface, a matter of 
shifting sands from which only those with the 
clearest heads could come forth. 

" And we ... we have clear heads," she 
said. It was impossible to listen to her without 
shuddering. For me, if he stood for an)rthing, 
Halderschrodt stood for stability; there was the 
tremendous name, and there was the person I had 
just seen, the person on whom a habit of mind 
approaching almost to the royal had conferred a 
presence that had some of the divinity that hedges 
a king. It seemed frightful merely to imagine 
his ignominious collapse; as frightful as if she 
had pointed out a splendid-limbed man and said : 
" That man will be dead in five minutes." That, 
indeed, was what she said of Halderschrodt 
. . . The man had saluted her, going to his 
death; the austere inclination that I had seen had 
been the salutation of such a man. 

I was so moved by one thing and another that 
I hardly noticed that Gurnard had come into the 
room. I had not seen him since the night when 
he had dined with the Due de Mersch at Church- 
ill's, but he seemed so part of the emotion, of the 



frame of mind, that he slid noiselessly into the 
scene and hardly surprised me. I was called out 
of the room — someone desired to see me, and I 
passed, without any transition of feeling, into 
the presence of an entire stranger — a man who 
remains a voice to me. He began to talk to me 
about the state of my aunt's health. He said 
she was breaking up; that he begged respectfully 
to urge that I would use my influence to take 
her back to London to consult Sir James — I, 
perhaps, living in the house and not having 
known my aunt for very long, might not see; but 
he . . . He was my aunt's solicitor. He was 
quite right; my aunt was breaking up, she had 
declined visibly in the few hours that I had been 
away from her. She had been doing business 
with this man, had altered her will, had seen Mr. 
Gurnard; and, in some way had received a shock 
that seemed to have deprived her of all volition. 
She sat with her head leaning back, her eyes 
closed, the lines of her face all seeming to run 

" It is obvious to me that arrangements ought 
to be made for your return to England," the 
lawyer said, " whatever engagements Miss Gran- 


ger or Mn Etchingham Granger or even Mr. 
Gurnard may have made." 

I wondered vaguely what the devil Mr. Gur- 
nard could have to say in the matter, and then 
Miss Granger herself came into the room. 

" They want me," my aunt said in a low voice, 
" they have been persuading me ... to go 
back ... to Etchingham, I think you said, 

I became conscious that I wanted to return to 
England, wanted it very much, wanted to be out 
of this; to get somewhere where there was sta- 
bility and things that one could understand. 
Everything here seemed to be in a mist, with the 
ground trembling underfoot. 

" Why . . ." Miss Granger's verdict came, 
" we can go when you like. To-morrow." 

Things immediately began to shape themselves 
on these unexpected lines, a sort of bustle of de- 
parture to be in the air. I was employed to coh- 
d'uct the lawyer as far as the porter's lodge, a 
longish traverse. He beguiled the way by ex- 
cusing himself for hurrying back to London. 

" I might have been of use; in these hurried 
departures there are generally things. But, you 



will understand, Mr. — Mr. Etchingham; at a 
time like this I could hardly spare the hours that 
it cost me to come over. You would be aston- 
ished what a deal of extra work it gives and how 
far-spreading the evil is. People seem to have 
gone mad. Even I have been astonished." 

" I had no idea," I said. 

" Of course not, of course not — ^no one had. 
But, unless I am much mistaken — much — ^there 
will have to be an enquiry, and people will be 
very lucky who have had nothing to do with 
it " 

I gathered that things were in a bad way, over 
there as over here; that there were scandals and 
a tremendous outcry for purification in the high- 
est places. I saw the man get into his fiacre and 
took my way back across the court-yard rather 
slowly, pondering over the part I was to fill in 
the emigration, wondering how far events had 
conferred on me a partnership in the family af- 

I found that my tacitly acknowledged function 
was that of supervising nurse-tender, the sort of 
thing that made for personal tenderness in the 
aridity of profuse hired help. I was expected to 

[ 219 1 


arrange a rug just a littie more comfortably than 
the lady's maid who would travel in the compart- 
ment — ^to give the finishing touches. 

It was astonishing how well the thing was en- 
gineered; the removal, I mean. It gave me an 
even better idea of the woman my aunt had been 
than had the panic of her solicitor. The thing 
went as smoothly as the disappearance of a cara- 
van of gypsies, camped for the night on a heath 
beside gorse bushes. We went to the ball that 
night as if from a household that had its roots 
deep in the solid rock, and in the morning we 
had disappeared. 

The ball itself was a finishing touch — ^the finish- 
ing touch of my sister's affairs and the end of my 
patience. I spent an interminable night, one of 
those nights that never end and that remain 
quivering and raw in the memory. I seemed to 
be in a blaze of light, watching, through a shift- 
ing screen of shimmering dresses — ^her and the 
Due de Mersch. I don't know whether the thing 
was really noticeable, but it seemed that every- 
one was — that everyone must be — ^remarking it. 
I thought I caught women making smile-punctu- 
ated remarks behind fans, men answering in- 



audibly with eyes discreetly on the ground. It 
was a mixed assembly, somebody's liquidation of 
social obligations, and there was a sprinkling of 
the kind of people who do make remarks. It was 
not the noticeability for its own sake that I hated, 
but the fact that their relations by their notice- 
ability made me impossible, whilst the notice 
itself confirmed my own fears. I hung, glower- 
ing in comers, noticeable enough myself, I sup- 

The thing reached a crisis late in the evening. 
There was a kind of winter-garden that one 
strolled in, a place of giant palms stretching up 
into a darkness of intense shadow. I was prowl- 
ing about in the shadows of great metallic leaves, 
cursing under my breath, in a fury of nervous ir- 
ritation; quivering like a horse martyrised by a 
stupidly merciless driver. I happened to stand 
back for a moment in the narrowest of paths, with 
the touch of spiky leaves on my hand and on my 
face. In front of me was the glaring perspective 
of one of the longer alleys, and, stepping into it, a 
great bandx)f blue ribbon cutting across his chest, 
came de Mersch with her upon his arm. De 
Mersch himself hardly counted. He had a way 



of glowing, but he paled ineffectual fires beside 
her maenadic glow. There was something over- 
powering in the sight of her, in the fire of her 
eyes, in the glow of her coils of hair, in the poise 
of her head. She wore some kind of early nine- 
teenth-century dress, sweeping low from the 
waist with a tenderness of fold that affected one 
with delicate pathos, that had a virgin quality 
of almost poignant intensity. And beneath it she 
stepped with the buoyancy — ^the long steps — of 
a triumphing Diana. 

It was more than terrible for me to stand there 
longing with a black, baffled longing, with some 
of the base quality of an eavesdropper and all 
the baseness of the unsuccessful. 

Then Gurnard loomed in the distance, moving 
insensibly down the long, glaring corridor, a 
sinister figure, suggesting in the silence of his 
oncoming the motionless flight of a vulture. 
Well within my field of sight he overtook them 
and, with a lack of preliminary greeting that sug- 
gested supreme intimacy, walked beside them. 
I stood for some moments — ^for some minutes, 
and then hastened after them. I was going to 
do something. After a time I found de Mersch 



and Gurnard standing facing each other in one 
of the doorways of the place — Gurnard, a small, 
dark, impassive column; de Mersch, bulky, over- 
whelming, florid, standing with his legs well 
apart and speaking vociferously with a good deal 
of gesture. I approached them from the side, 
standing rather insistently at his elbow. 

" I want," I said, " I would be extremely glad 
if you would give me a minute, monsieur." I 
was conscious that I spoke with a tremour of 
the voice, a sort of throaty eagerness. I was 
unaware of what course I was to pursue, but I 
was confident of calmness, of self-control — I was 
equal to that. They had a pause of surprised 
silence. Gurnard wheeled and fixed me criti- 
cally with his eye-glass. I took de Mersch a 
little apart, into a solitude of palm branches, 
and began to speak before he had asked me my 

" You must understand that I would not inter- 
fere without a good deal of provocation," I was 
saying, when he cut me short, speaking in a 
thick, jovial voice. 

" Oh, we will understand that, my good 
Granger, and then . . ." 

[ 223 ] 


" It is about my sister," I said — " you — ^you go 
too far. I must ask you, as a gentleman, to cease 
persecuting her." 

He answered " The devil ! " and then : " If I 
do not ? " 

It was evident in his voice, in his manner, that 
the man was a little — ^well, gris. " If you do not,'* 
I said, " I shall forbid her to see you and I 
shall . . ." 

*' Oh, oh ! " he interjected with the intonation 
of a reveller at a farce. " We are at that — ^we are 
the excellent brother." He paused, and then 
added : " Well, go to the devil, you and your for- 
bidding," He spoke with the greatest good 

" I am in earnest," I said; " very much in ear- 
nest. The thing has gone too far, and even for 
your own sake, you had better . . ." 

He said " Ah, ah ! " in the tone of his " Oh, 

" She is no friend to you," I struggled on, 
" she is playing with you for her own purposes; 
you will ..." 

He swayed a little on his feet and said: 
** Bravo . . . bravissimo. If we can't for- 



bid him, we will frighten him. Go on, my good 
fellow . . ." and then, " Come, go on • . ." 

I looked at his great bulk of a body. It came 
into my head dimly that I wanted him to strike 
me, to give me an excuse — ^anything to end the 
scene violently, with a crash and exclamations 
of fury. 

"You absolutely refuse to pay any atten- 
tion? " I said. 

" Oh, absolutely," he answered. 

"You know that I can do something, that 
I can expose you." I had a vague idea that I 
could, that the number of small things that 
I knew to his discredit and the mass of my hatred 
could be welded into a damning whole. He 
laughed a high-pitched, hysterical laugh. The 
dawn was beginning to spread pallidly above us, 
gleaming mournfully through the glass of the 
palm-house. People began to pass, muffled up, 
on their way out of the place. 

" You may go . . ." he was beginning. 
But the expression of his face altered. Miss 
Granger, muffled up like all the rest of the 
world, was coming out of the inner door. 
"We have been having a charming . . .'* 

[ 225 1 


he began to her. She touched me gently on 
the arm. 

" Come, Arthur," she said, and then to him, 
" You have heard the news? " 

He looked at her rather muzzily. 

" Baron Halderschrodt has committed sui- 
cide," she said. " Come, Arthur." 

We passed on slowly, but de Mersch fol- 

" You — ^you aren't in earnest? " he said, catch- 
ing at her arm so that we swung round and faced 
him. There was a sort of mad entreaty in his 
eyes, as if he hoped that by unsaying she could 
remedy an irremediable disaster, and there was 
nothing left of him but those panic-stricken, be- 
seeching eyes. 

" Monsieur de Sabran told me," she answered; 
" he had just come from making the constatation. 
Besides, you can hear ..." 

Half-sentences came to our ears from groups 
that passed us. A very old man with a nose that 
almost touched his thick lips, was saying to an- 
other of the same type : 

" Shot himself . . . through the left tem- 
ple .. . MonDieu!" 



De Mersch walked slowly down the long cor- 
ridor away from us. There was an extraordinary 
stiffness in his gait, as if he were trying to emu- 
late the goose step of his days in the Prussian 
Guard. My companion looked after him as 
though she wished to gauge the extent of hia 

" You would say ' Habet,* wouldn't yo|i? " she 
asked me. 

I thought we had seen the last of him, but as 
in the twilight of the dawn we waited for the lodge 
gates to open, a furious clatter of hoofs came 
down the long street, and a carriage drew level 
with ours. A moment after, de Mersch was 
knocking at our window. 

"You will . . . you will . . .*' he 
stuttered, "speak . .• . to Mr. Gurnard. 
That is our only chance . . . now." His 
voice came in mingled with the cold. air of the 
morning. I shivered. "You have so much 
power • * . with him and . . ." 

"Oh, I . . .*' she answered. 

" The thing must go through," he said again, 
" or else . . ." He paused. The great gates 
in front of us swung noiselessly open, one saw 



into the courtyard. The light was growing 
stronger. She did not answer. 

" I tell you," he asseverated insistently, " if the 
British Government abandons my railway all our 
plans . . ." 

" Oh, the Government won't abandon it," she 
said, with a little emphasis on the verb. He 
stepped back out of range of the wheels, and we 
turned in and left him standing there. 

In the great room which was usually given up 
to the political plotters stood a table covered with 
eatables and lit by a pair of candles in tall silver 
sticks. I was conscious of a raging hunger and 
of a fierce excitement that made the thought of 
sleep part of a past of phantoms. I began to eat 
unconsciously, pacing up and down the while. 
She was standing beside the table in the glow of 
the transparent light. Pallid blue lines showed 
in the long windows. It was very cold and hid- 
eously late; away in those endless small hours 
when the pulse drags, when the clock-beat drags, 
when time is effaced. 

" You see? " she said suddenly. 

[ 228 1 


"Oh, I see," I answered — " and . . . and 

"Now we are almost done with each other," 
she answered. 

I felt a sudden mental falling away. I had never 
looked at things in that way, had never really 
looked things in the face. I had grown so used 
to the idea that she was to parcel out the remain- 
der of my life, had grown so used to the feeling 
that I was the integral portion of her life . . . 
" But I—" I said. " What is to become of me? " 

She stood looking down at the ground . . . 
for a long time. At last she said in a low mono- 

" Oh, you must try to forget." 

A new idea struck me — luminously, over- 
whelming. I grew reckless. " You — ^you are 
growing considerate," I taunted. " You are not 
so sure, not so cold. I notice a change in you. 
Upon my soul . . ." 

Her eyes dilated suddenly, and as suddenly 
closed again. She said nothing. I grew con- 
scious of unbearable pain, the pain of returning 
life. She was going away. I should be alone. 
The future began to exist again, looming up like 



a vessel through thick mist, silent, phantasmal, 
overwhelming — ^a hideous future of irremediable 
remorse, of solitude, of craving. 

" You are going back to work with Church- 
ill," she said suddenly. 

" How did you know ? " I asked breathlessly. 
My despair of a sort found vent in violent inter- 
jecting of an imrtiaterial query. 

'* You leave your letters about," she said. 
" and ... It will be best for you." 

" It will not," I said bitterly. " It could never 
be the same. I don't want to see Churchill. I 
want . . ." 

" You want? " she asked, in a low monotone. 

" You," I answered. 

She spoke at last, very slowly: 

" Oh, as for me, I am going to marry Gurnard.'* 

I don't know just what I said then, but I re- 
meitiber that I found myself repeating over and 
over again, the phrases running metrically up 
and down my mind : " You couldn't marry Gur- 
nard; you don't know what he is. You couldn't 
marry Gurnard; you don't know what he is." I 
don't suppose that I knew anything to the dis- 
credit of Gurnard — ^but he struck me in that way 



at that moment; struck me convincingly — ^more 
than any array of facts could have done. 

" Oh — ^as for what he is — " she said, and 
paused. "/ know . . ." and then suddenly 
she began to speak very fast. 

" Don't you see? — can't you see? — ^that I don't 
marry Gurnard for what he is in that sense, but 
for what he is in the other. It isn't a marriage in 
your sense at all. And . . . and it doesn't 
affect you . . . don't you see? We have to 
have done with one another, because . . . 
because . . ." 

I had an inspiration. 

" I believe," I said, very slowly, " I believe • 
. . you do care . . ." 

She said nothing. 

" You care," I repeated. 

She spoke then with an energy that had some- 
thing of a threat in it. " Do you think I would? 
Do you think I could? ... or dare? Don't 
you understand? " She faltered — " but then 
. . ." she added, and was silent for a long min- 
ute. I felt the throb of a thousand pulses in my 
head, on my temples. " Oh, yes, I care," she 
said slowly, " but that — that makes it all the 



worse. Why, yes, I care — ^yes, yes. It hurts me 
to see you. I might ... It would draw me 
away. I have my allotted course. And jou — 
Don't you see, you would influence me; you 
would be — ^you are — ^ disease — ^for me." 

" But," I said, " I could— I would— do any- 

I had only the faintest of ideas of what I would 
do — ^for her sake. 

" Ah, no," she said, " you must not say that. 
You don't understand . . . Even that would 
mean misery for you — ^and I — I could not bear. 
Don't you see? Even now, before you have 
done your allotted part, I am wanting— oh, want- 
ing — to let you go . . . But I must not; I 
must not. You must go on . . . and bear it 
for a little while more — ^and then . . ." 

There was a tension somewhere, a string some- 
where that was stretched tight and vibrating. I 
was tremulous with an excitement that overmas- 
tered my powers of speech, that surpassed my 

Don't you see . . ." she asked again, 

you are the past — the passing. We could 
never meet. You are . . . for me . . . 




only the portrait of a man — of a man who has 
been dead— oh, a long time; and I, for you, only 
a possibility ... a conception . . . You 
work to bring me on — ^to make me possible." 

" But — " I said. The idea was so difficult to 
grasp. " I will — ^there must be a way " 

" No,*' she answered, " there is no way — ^you 
must go back; must try. There will be Church- 
ill and what he stands for — He won't die, he 
won't even care much for losing this game 
. . . not much . . . And you will have 
to forget me. There is no other way — ^no bridge. 
We can't meet, you and I . . ." 

The words goaded me to fury. I began to 
pace furiously up and down. I wanted to tell 
her that I would throw away everything for her, 
would crush myself out, would be a lifeless tool, 
would do an)rthing. But I could tear no words 
out of the stone that seemed to surround me. 

*' You may even tell him, if you like, what I 
and Gurnard are going to do. It will make no 
difference; he will fall. But you would like him 
to — ^to make a good fight for it, wouldn't you? 
That is all I can do . . . for your sake." 

I began to speak — as if I had not spoken for 

I ^33 ] 


years. The house seemed to be coming to life; 
there were noises of opening doors, of voices out- 

" I believe you care enough," I said " to give 
it all up for me. I believe you do, and I want 
you." I continued to pace up and down. The 
noises of returning day grew loud; frightfully 
loud. It was as if I must hasten, must get said 
what I had to say, as if I must raise my voice to 
make it heard amid the clamour of a world awak- 
ening to life. 

" I believe you do ... I believe you do 
. . ." I said again and again, "'and I want 
you." My voice rose higher and higher. She 
stood motionless, an inscrutable white figure, 
like some silent Greek statue, a harmony of fall- 
ing folds of heavy drapery perfectly motionless. 

" I want you," I said — " I want you, I want 
you, I want you." It was unbearable to myself. 

" Oh, be quiet," she said at last. " Be quiet I 
If you had wanted me I have been here. It is 
too late. All these days; all these " 

"But . . ."I said. 

From without someone opened the great shut- 
ters of the windows, and the light from the out- 
side world burst in upon us. 



WE parted in London next day, I hardly 
know where. She seemed so part of 
my being, was for me so little more 
than an intellectual force, so little of a physical 
personality, that I cannot remember where my 
eyes lost sight of her. 

I had desolately made the crossing from coun- 
try to country, had convoyed my aunt to her big 
house in one of the gloomy squares in ia certain 
district, and then we had parted. Even after- 
ward it was as if she were still beside me, as if I 
had only to look round to find her eyes upon mc. 
She remained the propelling force, I a boat thrust 
out upon a mill-pond, moving more and more 
slowly. I had been for so long in the shadow 
of that great house, shut in among the gloom, 
that all this light, this blazing world — ^it was a 
June day in London — ^seemed impossible, and 
hateful. Over there, there had been nothing but 
very slow, fading minutes ; now there was a past, 



a future. It was as if I stood between them in 
a cleft of unscalable rocks. 

I went about mechanically, made arrangements 
for my housing, moved in and out of rooms in 
the enormous mausoleum of a club that was all 
the home I had, in a sort of stupor. Suddenly I 
remembered that I had been thinking of some- 
thing; that she had been talking of Churchill. 
I had had a letter from him on the morning of 
the day before. When I read it, Churchill and 
his " Cromwell " had risen in my mind like pre- 
posterous phantoms; the one as unreal as the 
other — as alien. I seemed to have passed an in- 
finity of aeons beyond them. The one and the 
other belonged as absolutely to the past as a 
past year belongs. The thought of them did not 
bring with it the tremulously unpleasant sensa- 
tions that, as a rule, come with the thoughts of 
a too recent temps jadis, but rather as a vein of 
rose across a gray evening. I had passed his 
letter over; had dropped it half-read among the 
litter of the others. Then there had seemed to 
be a haven into whose mouth I was drifting. 

Now I should have to pick the letters up again, 
all of them; set to work desolately to pick up the 



threads of the past; and work it back into life as 
one does half-drowned things. I set about it list- 
lessly. There remained of that time an errand 
for my aunt, an errand that would take me to 
Etchingham; something connected with her land 
steward. I think the old lady had ideas of in- 
ducting me into a position that it had grown 
tacitly acknowledged I was to fill. I was to go 
down there; to see about some alterations that 
were in progress; and to make arrangements 
for my aunt's return. I was so tired, so dog 
tired, and the day still had so many weary hours 
to run, that I recognised instinctively that if I 
were to come through it sane I must tire myself 
more, must keep on going — until I sank. I 
drifted down to Etchingham that evening. I 
sent a messenger over to Churchiirs cottage, 
waited for an answer that told me that Churchill 
was there, and then slept, and slept. 

I woke back in the world again, in a world that 
contained the land steward and the manor house* 
I had a sense of recovered power from the sight 
of them, of the sunlight on the stretches of turf, 
of the mellow, golden stonework of the long 
range of buildings, from the sound of a chime of 



bells that came wonderfully sweetly over the soft 
swelling of the close turf. The feeling came not 
from any sense of prospective ownership, but 
from the acute consciousness of what these things 
stood for. I did not recognise it then, but later 
I understood; for the present it was enough to 
have again the power to set my foot on the 
ground, heel first. In the streets of the little 
town there was a sensation of holiday, not pro- 
nounced enough to call for flags, but enough to 
convey the idea of waiting for an event. 

The land steward, at the end of a tour amongst 
cottages, explained there was to be a celebration 
in the neighbourhood — z " cock-and-hen show 
with a political annex " ; the latter under the aus- 
pices of Miss Churchill. Churchill himself was 
to speak ; there was a possibility of a pronounce- 
ment. I found London reporters at my inn, men 
I half knew. They expressed mitigated delight 
at the view of me, and over a lunch-table let me 
know what " one said '' — ^what one said of the 
outside of events I knew too well internally. 
They most of them had the air of my aunt's so- 
licitor when he had said, " Even I did not realise 
. . ." their positions saving them the neces- 



sity of concealing surprise. " One can't know 
everything." They fumbled amusingly about the 
causes, differed with one another, but were sur- 
prisingly unanimous as to effects, as to the panic 
and the call for purification. It was rather ex- 
traordinary, too, how large de Mersch loomed 
on the horizon over here. It was as if the whole 
world centred in him, as if he represented the 
modern spirit that must be purified away by 
burning before things could return to their nor- 
mal state. I knew what he represented . . . 
but there it was. 

It was part of my programme, the attendance 
at the poultry show; I was to go back to the 
cottage with Churchill, after he had made his 
speech. It was rather extraordinary, the sensa- 
tions of that function. I went in rather late, with 
the reporter of the Hour, who was anxious to 
do me the favour of introducing me without pay- 
ment — it was his way of making himself pleasant, 
and I had the reputation of knowing celebrities. 
It zvas rather extraordinary to be back again in 
the midst of this sort of thing, to be walking over 
a crowded, green paddock, hedged in with tall 
trees and dotted here and there with the gaily 



striped species of tent that is called marquee. 
And the type of face, and the style of the cos- 
tume I They would have seemed impossible the 
day before yesterday. 

There were all Miss Churchill's gang of great 
dames, muslin, rustling, marriageable daugh- 
ters, a continual twitter of voices, and a sprinkling 
of the peasantry, dun-coloured and struck speech- 

One of the great ladies surveyed me as I stood 
in the centre of an open space, surveyed me 
through tortoise-shell glasses on the end of a 
long handle, and beckoned me to her side. 

" You are unattached? " she asked. She had 
pretensions to voice the county, just as my aunt 
undoubtedly set the tone of its doings, decided 
who was visitable, and just as Miss Churchill gave 
the political tone. " You may wait upon me, 
then,*' she said; " my daughter is with her young 
man. That is the correct phrase, is it not? " 

She was a great lady, who stood nearly six foot 
high, and whom one would have styled buxom, 
had one dared. " I have a grievance," she went 
on; "I must talk to someone. Come this way. 
Therer' She pointed with the handle of her 




glasses to a pen of glossy blackbirds. " You see! 
. . . Not even commended! — and I assure 
you the trouble I have taken over them, with the 
idea of setting an example to the tenantry, is in- 
credible. They give a prize to one of our own 
tenants . . . which is as much as telling the 
man that he is an example to me. Then they 
wonder that the country is going to the dogs. I 
assure you that after breakfast I have had the 
scraps collected from the plates — that was the 
course recommended by the poultry manuals — 
and have taken them out with my own hands." 
The sort of thing passed for humour in the 
county, and, being delivered with an air and a 
half Irish ruefulness, passed well enough. 

And that reminds me," she went on, " — I 
mean the fact that the country is going to the 
dogs, as my husband [You haven't seen him 
an5nvhere, have you? He is one of the judges, 
and I want to have a word with him about my 
Orpingtons] says every morning after he has 
looked at his paper — that ... oh, that you 
have been in Paris, haven't you? with your aunt. 
Then, of course, you have seen this famous Due 
de Mersch?" 



She looked at me humourously through her 
glasses. " I'm going to pump you, you know," 
she said, ** it is the duty that is expected of me. 
I have to talk for a countyful of women without 
a tongue in their heads. So tell me about him. 
Is it true that he is at the bottom of all this mis- 
chief? Is it through him that this man com- 
mitted suicide? They say so. He was mixed 
up in that Royalist plot, wasn*t he? — and the 
people that have been failing all over the place 
are mixed up with him, aren't they? " 

"I . . . I really don't know,'' I said; "if 
you say so ..." 

" Oh, I assure you I'm sound enough," she an- 
swered, " the Churchills — I know you're a friend 
of his — ^haven't a stauncher ally than I am, and I 
should only be too glad to be able to contradict. 
But it's so difficult. I assure you I go out of 
my way; talk to the most outrageous people, 
deny the very possibility of Mr. Churchill's being 
in any way implicated. One knows that it's im- 
possible, but what can one do? I have said again 
and again — ^to people like grocers' wives; even 
to the grocers, for that matter — ^that Mr. Church- 
ill is a statesman, and that if he insists that this 



odious man's railway must go through, it is in 
the interests of the country that it should. I tell 
them . . /' 

She paused for a minute to take breath and 
then went on : "I was speaking to a man of that 
class only this morning, rather an intelligent 
man and quite nice — I was saying, ' Don't you 
see, my dear Mr. Tull, that it is a question of 
international politics. If the grand duke does 
not get the money for his railway, the grand duke 
will be turned out of his — ^what is it — ^principal- 
ity? And that would be most dangerous — ^in 
the present condition of affairs over there, and 
besides . . / The man listened very respect- 
fully, but I could see that he was not convinced. 
I buckled to again . . . 

" ' And besides/ I $aid, ' there is the question 
of Greenland itself. We English must have 
Greenland . . . sooner or later. It touches 
you, even. You have a son who's above — ^whb 
doesn't care for life in a country tovm, and you 
want to send him abroad — ^with a little capital 
Well, Greenland is just the place for him.' The 
man looked at me, and almost shook his head iiti 
my face. 



" ' If you'll excuse me, my lady/ he said, ^ it 
won't do. Mr. Churchill is a man above hocus- 
pocus. Well I know it that have had dealings 
with him. But • . . well, the long and the 
short of it is, my lady, that you can't touch 
pitch and not be defiled; or, leastwise, people'll 
think you've been defiled — ^those that don't know 
you. The foreign nations are all very well, 
and the grand duchy — ^and the getting hold of 
Greenland, but what touches me is this — My 
neighbour Slingsby had a little money, and he 
gets a prospectus. It looked very well — ^very 
well — ^and he brings it in to me. I did not have 
anything to do with it, but Slingsby did. Well, 
now there's Slingsby on the rates and his wife a 
lady born, almost. I might have been taken in 
the same way but for — for the grace of God, I'm 
minded to say. Well, Slingsby's a good man, 
and used to be a hard-working man — ^all his life, 
and now it turns out that that prospectus came 
about by the man de Mersch's manoeuvres — 
" wild-cat schemes," they call them in the paper 
that I read. And there's any number of them 
started by de Mersch or his agents. Just for 
yrhat? That de Mersch may be the richest man 



in the world and a philanthropist. Well, then, 
Where's Slingsby, if that's philanthropy? So Mr. 
Churchill comes along and says, in a manner of 
speaking, " That's all very well, but this same Mr. 
Mersch is the grand duke of somewhere or other, 
and we must bolster him up in his kingdom, or 
else there will be trouble with the powers." 
Powers — ^what's powers to me?— or Greenland? 
when there's Slingsby, a man I've smoked a pipe 
with every market evening of my life, in the 
workhouse? And there's hundreds of Slingsbya 
all over the country.' 

"The man was working himself — Slingsby 
was a good sort of man. It shocked even me. 
One knows what goes on in one's own village, 
of course. And it's only too true that there's 
hundreds of Slingsbys — I'm not boring you, am 

I did not answer for a moment. " I — ^I had no 
idea," I said; " I have been so long out of it and 
over there one did not realise the . . . the 

"You've been well out of it," she answered; 
" one has had to suffer, I assure you." I believed 
that she had had to suffer; it must have taken 



a good deal to make that lady complain. Her 
large, ruddy features followed the droop of her 
eyes down to the fringe of the parasol that she 
was touching the turf with. We were sitting on 
garden seats in the dappled shade of enormous 

There was in the air a touch of the sounds dis- 
coursed by a yeomanry band at the other end of 
the grounds. One could see the red of their uni- 
forms through moving rifts in the crowd of white 

" That wasn't even the worst," she said sud- 
denly, lifting her eyes and looking away between 
the trunks of the trees. "The man has been 
reading the papers and he gave me the benefit 
of his reflections. * Someone's got to be pun- 
ished for this; ' he said, ' we've got to show them 
that you can't be hand-and-glove with that sort 
of blackguard without paying for it. I don't 
say, mind you, that Mr, Churchill i« or ever 
has been. I know him, and I trust him. But 
there's more than me in the world, and they can't 
all know him. Well, here's the papers saying — 
or they don't say it, but they hint, which is 
worse in a way — ^that he must be, or he wouldn't 



stick up for the man. They say the man's a 
blackguard out and out — ^in Greenland too ; has 
the blacks murdered. Churchill says the blacks 
are to be safe-guarded, that's the word. Well, 
they may be — but so ought Slingsby to have 
been, yet it didn't help him. No, my lady, we've 
got to put our own house in order and that first, 
before thinking of the powers or places like 
Greenland. What's the good of the saner policy 
that Mr. Churchill talks about, if you can't trust 
anyone with your money, and have to live on 
the capital ? If you can't sleep at night for think- 
ing that you may be in the workhouse to-mor- 
row — like Slingsby.'^ The first duty of men in 
Mr. Churchill's position — ^as I see it — is to see 
that we're able to be confident of honest deal- 
ing. That's what we want, not Greenlands. 
That's how we all feel, and you know it, too, or 
else you, a great lady, wouldn't stop to talk to 
a man like me. And, mind you, I'm true blue, 
always have been and always shall be, and, if it 
was a matter of votes, I'd give mine to Mr. 
Churchill to-morrow. But there's a many that 
wouldn't, and there's a many that believe the 
hintings.' " 



My lady stopped and sighed from a broad 
bosom. "What could I say?" she went on 
again. " I know Mr. Churchill and I like him 
— ^and everyone that knows him likes him. I'm 
one of the stalwarts, mind you; I'm not for giv- 
ing in to popular clamour; I'm for the ' saner 
policy/ like Churchill. But, as the man said: 
* There's a many that believe the hintings.' And 
I almost wish Churchill . . . However, you 
understand what I meant when I said that one 
had had to suffer." 

" Oh, I understand," I said. I was beginning 
to. " And Churchill? " I asked later, " he gives 
no sign of relenting? " 

" Would you have him? " she asked sharply; 
" would you make him if you could? " She had 
an air of challenging. ** I'm for the ' saner 
policy ! ' cost what it may. He owes it to him- 
self to sacrifice himself, if it comes to that." 

" I'm with you too," I answered, " over boot 
and spur." Her enthusiasm was contagious, and 

" Oh, he'll stick," she began again after con- 
sultation with the parasol fringe. " You'll hear 
him after a minute. It's a field day to-day. 



You'll miss the other heavy guns if you stop with 
me. I do it ostentatiously — ^wait until they've 
done. They're all trembling; all of them. My 
husband will be on the platform — trembling too. 
He is a type of them. All day long and at odd 
moments at night I talk to him — out-talk him 
and silence him. What's the state of popular 
feeling to him? He's for the country, not the 
town — ^this sort of thing has nothing to do with 
him. It's a matter to be settled by Jews in the 
City. Well, he sees it at night, and then in the 
morning the papers undo all my work. He 
begins to talk about his seat — ^which / got for 
him. I've been the ' voice of the county ' for 
years now. Well, it'll soon be a voice without 
a county . . . What is ft? *The old order 
changeth.' So, I've arranged it that I shall wait 
until the trembling big-wigs have stuttered their 
speeches out, and then I'm going to sail down 
the centre aisle and listen to Churchill with vis- 
ible signs of approval. It won't do much to- 
day, but there was a time when it would have 
changed the course of an election . . . Ah, 
there's Effie's young man. It's time." 
She rose and marched, with the air of going to 


a last sacrifice, across the deserted sward toward 
a young man who was passing under the calico 
flag of the gateway. 

" It's all right, Willoughby," she said, as we 
drew level, " I've found someone else to face the 
music with me; you can go back to Effie." A 
bronzed and grateful young man murmurecl 
thanks to me. 

" It's an awful relief, Granger," he said; " can't 
think how you can do it. I'm hooked, but 
you . . ." 

" He's the better man," his mother-in-law-elect 
said, over her shoulder. She sailed slowly up the 
aisle beside me, an almost heroic figure of a 
matron. " Splendidly timed, you see," she said, 
"do you observe my husband's embarrass- 
ment? " 

It was splendid to see Churchill again, stand- 
ing there negligently, with the diffidence oi a 
boy amid the bustle of applause. I understood 
suddenly why I loved him so, this tall, gray man 
with the delicate, almost grotesque, mannerisms. 
He appealed to me by sheer force of picturesque* 
ness, appealed as some forgotten mediaeval city 
might. I was concerned for him as for some 



such dying place, standing above the level plains; 
I was jealous lest it should lose one jot of its 
glory, of its renown. He advocated his sanef 
policy before all those people; stood up there 
and spoke gently, persuasively, without any stress 
of emotion, without more movement than an 
occasional flutter of the glasses he held in his 
hand. One would never have recognised that 
the thing was a fighting speech but for the oc- 
casional shiver of his audience. They were think- 
ing of their Slingsbys; he affecting, insouciantly, 
to treat them as rational people. 

It was extraordinary to sit there shut in by 
that wall of people all of one type, of one idea; 
the idea of getting back; all conscious that a force 
of which they knew nothing was dragging them 
forward over the edge of a glacier, into a crevaisse. 
They wanted to get back, were struggling, pant- 
ing even — ^as a nation pants — ^to get back by 
their own way that they understood and saw; 
were hauling, and hauling desperately, at the 
weighted rope that was dragging them forward. 
Churchill stood up there and repeated : " Mine is 
the only way — the saner policy," and his words 
would fly all over the country to fall upon the 



deaf ears of the panic-stricken, who could not 
understand the use of calmness, of trifling even, 
in the face of danger, who suspected the calm- 
ness as one suspects the thing one has not. At 
the end of it I received his summons to a small 
door at the back of the building. The speech 
seemed to have passed out of his mind far more 
than out of mine. 

" So you have come," he said; " that's good, 
and so . . • Let us walk a little way . . 
. out of this. My^ aunt will pick us up on the 
road." He linked his arm into mine and pro- 
pelled me swiftly down the bright, broad street. 
" Fm sorry you came in for that, but—one has 
to do these things." 

There was a sort of resisted numbness in his 
voice, a lack of any resiliency. My heart sank 
a little. It was as if I were beside an invalid 
who did not— must not — ^know his condition; 
as if I were pledged not to notice anything. 
In the open the change struck home as a ham- 
mer strikes; in the pitiless searching of the un- 
restrained light, his grayness, his tremulousness, 
his aloofness from the things about him, came 
home to me like a pang. 



" You look a bit fagged," I said, " perhaps we 
ought not to talk about work." His thoughts 
seemed to come back from a great distance, oh, 
from an infinite distance beyond the horizon, the 
soft hills of that fat country. " You want rest," 
I added. 

" I-*-oh, no," he answered, " I can't have it . 
. . till the end of the session. Fm used to it 

He began talking briskly about the *' Crom- 
well; " proofs had emerged from the infinite and 
wanted attention. There were innumerable lit- 
tle matters, things to be copied for the appendix 
and revisions. It was impossible for me to keep 
my mind upon them. 

It had come suddenly home to me that this was 
the world that I belonged to; that I had come 
back to it as if from an under world; that to this 
I owed allegiance. She herself had recognised 
that; she herself had bidden me tell him what 
was a-gate against him. It was a duty too; he 
was my friend. But, face to face with him, it 
became almost an impossibility. It was impossi- 
ble even to put it into words. The mere ideas 
seemed to be untranslatable, to savour of mad- 



ness. I found myself in the very position that she 
had occupied at the commencement of our rela- 
tions : that of having to explain — say, to a Persian 
— ^the working principles of the telegraph. And 
I was not equal to the task. At the same time I 
had to do something. I had to. It would be 
abominable to have to go through life forever, 
alone with the consciousness of that sort of treach- 
ery of silence. But how could I tell him even the 
comprehensibles? What kind of sentence was I 
to open with? With pluckings of an apologetic 
string, without prelude at all — or how? I grew 
conscious that there was need for haste; he was 
looking behind him down the long white road for 
the carriage that was to pick us up. 

" My dear fellow . . ."I began. He must 
have noted a change in my tone, and looked at 
me with suddenly lifted eyebrows. " You know 
my sister is going to marry Mr. Gurnard." 

"Why, no," he answered — "that is . . . 
I've heard . • ." he began to offer good 

" No, no," I interrupted him hurriedly, " not 
that. But I happen to know that Gurnard is 
meditating ... is going to separate from 



you in public matters." An expression of dismay 
spread over his face. 

" My dear fellow/' he began. 

*' Oh, Fm not drunk," I said bitterly, " but I've 
been behind the scenes — for a long time. And I 
could not . . . couldn't let the thing go on 
without a word." 

He stopped in the road and looked at me. 

" Yes, yes," he said, " I daresay . . . But 
what does it lead to? . . . Even if I could 
listen to you — I can't go behind the scenes. Mr. 
Gurnard may differ from me in points, but don't 
you see? . . ." He had walked on slowly, 
but he came to a halt again. " We had better put 
these matters out of our minds. Of course you 
are not drunk; but one is tied down in these mat- 
ters . . ." 

He spoke very gently, as if he did not wish to 
offend me by this closing of the door. He 
seemed suddenly to grow very old and very gray. 
Thdre was a stile in the dusty hedge-row, and he 
walked toward it, meditating. In a moment he 
looked back at me. " I had forgotten," he said; 
" I meant to suggest that we should wait here 
—I am a little tired." He perched himself on 



the top bar and became lost in the inspection of 
the cord of his glasses. I went toward him. 

" I knew," I said, " that you could not listen 
to . . . to the sort of thing. But there were 
reasons. I felt forced. You will forgive me." 
He looked up at me^ starting as if he had forgot- 
ten my presence. 

" Yes, yes," he said, " I have a certain — ^I can't 
think of the right word — ^say respect — for your 
judgment and — and motives . . . But you 
see, there are, for instance, my colleagues. I 
couldn't go to them . . ." He lost the 
thread of his idea. 

" To tell the truth," I said, with a sudden im- 
pulse for candour, '' it isn't the political aspect of 
the matter, but the personal. I spoke because 
it was just possible that I might be of service to 
you — ^personally — ^and because I would like you 
. . . to make a good fight for it." I had 
borrowed her own words. 

He looked up at me and smiled. *' Thank 
you," he said. " I believe you think it's a losing 
game," he added, with a touch of gray humour 
that was like a genial hour of sunlight on a win- 
try day, I did not answer. A little way down 



the road Miss ChurchiU's carriage whirled into 
sight, sparkling in the sunlight, and sending up 
an attendant cloud of dust that melted like 
smoke through the dog-roses of the leeward 

" So you don't think much of me as a politi- 
cian," Churchill suddenly deduced smilingly. 
" You had better not tell that to my aunt." 

I went up to town with Churchill that evening. 
There was nothing waiting for me there, but I 
did not want to think. I wanted to be among 
men, among crowds of men, to be dazed, to be 
stupefied, to hear nothing for the din of life, to 
be blinded by the blaze of lights. 

There were plenty of people in Churchill's car- 
riage; a military member and a local member 
happened to be in my immediate neighbourhood. 
Their minds were full of the financial scandals, 
and they dinned their alternating opinions into 
me. I assured them that I knew nothing about 
the matter, and they grew more solicitous for my 

" It all comes from having too many eggs in 
one basket," the local member summed up. 
''The old-fashioned small enterprises had their 



disadvantages, but — ^mind you — ^these gigantic 
trusts . . . Isn't that so, General? " 

" Oh, I quite agree with you," the general 
barked; "at the same time . . /' Their 
voices sounded on, intermingling, indistinguish- 
able, soothing even. I seemed to be listening to 
the hum of a threshing-machine — a passage of 
sound booming on one note, a passage, a half- 
tone higher, and so on, and so on. Visible things 
grew hazy, fused into one another. 

r 258 ) 


WE reached London somewhat late in 
the evening — in the twilight of a sum- 
mer day. There was the hurry and 
bustle of arrival, a hurry and bustle that changed 
the tenor of my thoughts and broke their train. 
As I stood reflecting before the door of the 
carriage, I felt a friendly pressure of a hand on 
my shoulder. 

" You'll see to that," Churchill's voice said in 
my ear. " You'll set the copyists to work." 

" m go to the Museum to-morrow," I said. 
There were certain extracts to be made for the 
''Life of Cromwell^' — extracts from pamphlets 
that we had not conveniently at disposal. He 
nodded, walked swiftly toward his brougham, 
opened the door and entered. 

I remember so well that last sight of him— -of 
his long, slim figure bending down for the en- 
trance, woefully solitary, woefully weighted; re- 
member so well the gleam of the carriage panels 
reflecting the murky light of the bare London 



terminus, the attitude of the coachman stiffly 
reining back the horse; the thin hand that 
reached out, a gleam of white, to turn the gleam- 
ing handle. There was something intimately 
suggestive of the man in the motion of that hand» 
in its tentative outstretching, its gentle, half-per- 
suasive — ^almost theoretic — ^grasp of the handle. 
The pleasure of its friendly pressure on my shoul- 
der carried me over some minutes of solitude; 
its weight on my body removing another from 
my mind. I had feared that my ineffective dis- 
closure had chilled what of regard he had for me. 
He had said nothing, his manner had said noth- 
ing, but I had feared. In the railway carriage 
he had sat remote from me, buried in papers. 
But that touch on my shoulder was enough to 
set me well with myself again, if not to afford 
scope for pleasant improvisation. It at least 
showed me that he bore me no ill-will, otherwise 
he would hardly have touched me. Perhaps, 
even, he was grateful to me, not for service, but 
for ineffectual good-will. Whatever I read into 
it, that was the last time he spoke to me, and the 
last time he touched me. And I loved him very 
well. Things went so quickly after that, 



In a moderately cheerful frame of mind I 
strolled the few yards that separated me from my 
club— intent on dining. In my averseness to soli- 
tude I sat down at a table where sat already a little, 
bald-headed, false-toothed Anglo-Indian, a man 
who bored me into fits of nervous excitement. 
He was by way of being an incredibly distant 
uncle of my own. As a rule I avoided him, to- 
night I dined with him. He was a person of 
interminable and incredibly inaccurate reminis- 
cences. His long residence in an indigo-produc- 
ing swamp had affected his memory, which was 
supported by only very occasional visits to 

He told me tales of my poor father and of my 
poor, dear mother, and of Mr. Bromptons and 
Mrs. Kenwards who had figured on their visit- 
ing lists away back in the musty sixties. 

" Your poor, dear father was precious badly 
off then," he said; " he had a hard struggle for 
it. I had a bad time of it too; worm had got at 
all my plantations, so I couldn't help him, poor 
chap. I think, mind you, Kenny Granger treat- 
ed him very badly. He might have done some- 
thing for him — ^he had influence, Kenny had." 




Kenny was my uncle, the head of the family, 
the husband of my aunt. 

" They weren't on terms," I said. 
Oh, I know, I know," the old man mumbled, 

but still, for one's only brother . . . How- 
ever, you contrive to do yourselves pretty well. 
You're making your pile, aren't you? Someone 
said to me the other day — can't remember who it 
was — that you were quite one of the rising men 
—quite one of the men." 

Very kind of someone," I said. 
And now I see," he went on, lifting up a copy 
of a morning paper, over which I had found him 
munching his salmon cutlet, " now I see your 
sister is going to marry a cabinet minister. 
Ah ! " he shook his poor, muddled, baked head, 
" I remember you both as tiny little dots." 

"Why," I said, "she can hardly have been 
born then." 

" Oh, yes," he affirmed, " that was when I came 
over in '78. She remembered, too, that I 
brought her over an ivory doll — she remem- 

" You have seen her? " I asked. 

" Oh, I called two or three weeks — ^no, months 



—ago. She's the image of your poor, dear 
mother/' he added, "at that age; I remarked 
upon it to your aunt, but, of course, she could not 
remember. They were not married until after the 

A sudden restlessness made me bolt the rest 
of my tepid dinner. With my return to the up- 
per world, and the return to me of a will, despair 
of a sort had come back. I had before me the 
problem — ^the necessity — of winning her. Once 
I was out of contact with her she grew smaller, 
less of an idea, more of a person — that one could 
win. And there were two ways. I must either 
woo her as one woos a person barred; must com- 
pel her to take flight, to abandon, to cast away 
everything; or I must go to her as an eligible 
suitor with the Etchingham acres and possibili- 
ties of a future on that basis. This fantastic old 
man with his mumbled reminiscences spoilt me 
for the last. One remembers sooner or later 
that a county-man may not marry his reputed 
sister without scandal. And I craved her in- 

She had upon me the effect of an incredible 
stimulant; away from her I was like a drunkarc/ 



cut off from his liquor; an opium-taker from his 
drug. I hardly existed ; I hardly thought. 

I had an errand at my aunt's house; had a 
message to deliver, sympathetic enquiries to 
make — ^and I wanted to see her, to gain some 
sort of information from her; to spy out the land; 
to ask her for terms. There was a change in the 
appearance of the house, an adventitious bright- 
ness that indicated the rise in the fortunes of the 
family. For me the house was empty and the 
great door closed hollowly behind me. My sister 
was not at home. It seemed abominable to me 
that she should be out; that she could be talking 
to anyone, or could exist without me. I went 
sullenly across the road to the palings of the 
square. As I turned the corner I found my head 
pivoting on my neck. I was looking over my 
shoulder at the face of the house, waswondering 
which was her window. 

" Like a love-sick boy — like a damn love-sick 
boy," I growled at myself. My sense of humour 
was returning to me. There began a pilgfrimage 
in search of companionship. 

London was a desert more solitary than was 
believable. On those brilliant summer even- 



ings the streets were crowded, were alive, bustled 
with the chitter-chatter of footsteps, with the 
chitter-chatter of voices, of laughter. 

It was impossible to walk, impossible to do 
more than tread on one's own toes; one was al- 
most blinded by the constant passing of faces. It 
was like being in a wheat-field with one's eyes on 
a level with the indistinguishable ears. One was 
alone in one's intense contempt for all these faces, 
all these contented faces; one towered intellect- 
ually above them; one towered into regions of 
rarefaction. And down below they enjoyed 
themselves. One understood life better; they 
better how to live. That struck me then — in Ox- 
ford Street. There was the intense good-hu- 
mour, the absolute disregard of the minor incon- 
veniences, of the inconveniences of a crowd, of 
the ignominy of being one of a crowd. There 
was the intense poetry of the soft light, the poetry 
of the summer-night coolness, and they under- 
stood how to enjoy it. I turned up an ancient 
court near Bedford Row. 

" In the name of God," I said, " I will enjoy 
. . ." and I did. The poetry of those old de- 
serted quarters came suddenly home to me — ^all 



the little commonplace thoughts; all the com* 
monplace associations of Georgian London. 
For the time I was done with the meanings of 

I was seeking Lea — ^he was not at home. The 
quarter was honeycombed with the homes of peo- 
ple one knows; of people one used to know, ex- 
cellent young men who wrote for the papers, 
who sub-edited papers, who designed posters, 
who were always just the same. One forgot them 
for a year or two, one came across them again 
and found them just the same — still writing for 
the same papers, still sub-editing the same pa- 
pers, designing the same posters. I was in the 
mood to rediscover them in the privacies of their 
hearths, with the same excellent wives making 
fair copies of the same manuscripts, with the same 
gaiety of the same indifferent whiskey, brown or 
pale or suspicious-looking, in heavy, square, cut- 
glass stoppered decanters, and with the same in- 
different Virginian tobacco at the same level in 
the same jars. 

I was in the mood for this stability, for the 
excellent household article that was their view 
of life and literature. I wanted to see it again, 



to hear again how it was filling the unvarying, 
allotted columns of the daily, the weekly, or the 
monthly journals. I wanted to breathe again 
this mild atmosphere where there are no longer 
hopes or fears. But, alas! . . . 

I rang bell after bell of that gloomy central 
London district. You know what happens. 
One pulls the knob under the name of the person 
one seeks — ^puUs it three, or, it may be, four times 
in vain. One rings the housekeeper's bell; it re- 
verberates, growing fainter and fainter, gradu- 
ally stifled by a cavernous subterranean at- 
mosphere. After an age a head peeps round the 
opening door, the head of a hopeless. anachron- 
ism, the head of a widow of early Victorian merit, 
or of an orphan of incredible age. One asks for 
So-and-so— he's out; for Williams — ^he's expect- 
ing an increase of family, and has gone into the 
country with madame. And Waring? Oh, he's 
gone no one knows where, and Johnson who used 
to live at Number 44 only comes up to town on 
Tuesdays now. I exhausted the possibilities of 
that part of Bloomsbury, the possibilities of va- 
riety in the types of housekeepers. The rest of 
London divided itself into bands — ^into zones. 



Between here and Kensington the people that I 
knew could not be called on after dinner, those 
who lived at Chiswick and beyond were hyper- 
borean — one was bound by the exigencies of 
time. It was ten o'clock as I stood reflecting on 
a doorstep — on Johnson's doorstep. I must see 
somebody, must talk to somebody, before I went 
to bed in the cheerless room at the club. It was 
true I might find a political stalwart in the smok- 
ing-room — but that was a last resort, a desperate 
and ignominious pis aller. 

There was Fox, I should find him at the office. 
But it needed a change of tone before I could 
contemplate with equanimity the meeting of that 
individual. I had been preparing myself to con- 
front all the ethically excellent young men and 
Fox was, ethically speaking, far from excellent, 
middle-aged, rubicund, leery — sl free lance of 
genius. I made the necessary change in my 
tone of mind and ran him to earth. 

The Watteau room was further enlivened by 
the introduction of a scarlet plush couch of 
sumptuous design. By its side stood a couple of 
electric lights. The virulent green of their 
shades made the colours of the be-shepherded 



wall-panels appear almost unearthly, and threw 
impossible shadows on the deal partition. Round 
the couch stood chairs with piles of papers neatly 
arranged on them; round it, on the floor, were 
more papers lying like the leaves of autumn that 
one sings of. On it lay Fox, enveloped in a 
Shetland shawl — a, good shawl that was the only 
honest piece of workmanship in the tom-tawdry 
place. Fox was as rubicund as ever, but his 
features were noticeably peaked and there were 
heavy lines under his eyes — lines cast into deep 
shadow by the light by which he was reading. 
I entered unannounced, and was greeted by an 
indifferent upward glance that changed into one 
of something like pleasure as he made out my 
features in the dim light. 

" Hullo, you old country hawbuck," he said, 
with spasmodic jocularity; " I'm uncommon glad 
to see you." He came to a jerky close, with an 
indrawing of his breath. " I'm about done," he 
went on. " Same old thing — ^sciatica. Took me 
just after I got here this afternoon; sent out one 
of the messengers to buy me a sofa, and here 
I've been ever since. Well, and what's brought 
you up — don't answer, I know all about it. I've 



got to keep on talking until this particular spasm's 
over, or else I shall scream and disturb the flow 
of Soane's leader. Well, and now youVe come, 
you'll stop and help me to put the Hour to bed, 
won't you? And then you can come and put me 
to bed." 

He went on talking at high pressure, exag- 
gerating his expressions, heightening his humor- 
ous touches with punctuations of rather wild 
laughter. At last he came to a stop with a half 
suppressed " Ah! " and a long indrawing of the 

" That's over," he said. " Give me a drop of 
brandy — there's a good fellow." I gave him his 
nip. Then I explained to him that I couldn't 
work for the Hour; that I wasn't on terms with 
de Mersch. 

" Been dropping money over him? " he asked, 
cheerfully. I explained a little more — ^that there 
was a lady. 

" Oh, it's tJtat," Fox said. " The man is a 
fool . . . But anyhow Mersch don't count 
for much in this particular show. He's no money 
in it even, so you may put your pride in your 
pocket, or wherever you keep it. It's all right 
Straight. He's only the small change." 



But/' I said, " everyone says; you said your- 

" X>Ul, J. 

self . . ." 

To be sure," he answered. " But you don't 
think that / play second fiddle to a bounder of 
that calibre. Not really? " 

He looked at me with a certain seriousness. 
I remembered, as I had remembered once before, 
that Fox was a personality — z power. I had never 
realised till then how entirely — fundamentally — i 
different he was from any other man that I knew^ 
He was surprising enough to have belonged to 
another race. He looked at me, not as if he cared 
whether I gave him his due or no, but as if he were 
astonished at my want of perception of the fact. 
He let his towzled head fall back upon the plush 
cushions. " You might kick him from here to 
Greenland for me," he said; "I wouldn't weep. 
It suits me to hold him up, and a kicking might 
restore his equilibrium. I'm sick of him — I've 
told him so. I knew there was a woman. But 
don't you worry; Pm the man here." 

" If that's the case ..." I said. 

" Oh, that's it," he answered. 

I helped him to put the paper to bed; took 
some of the work oflf his hands. It was all part 
of the getting back to life; of the resuming of 



rusty armour; and I wanted to pass the night. 
I was not unused to it, as it happened. Fox had 
had several of these fits during my year, and dur- 
ing most of them I had helped him through the 
night; once or twice for three on end. Once I 
had had entire control for a matter of five nights. 
But they gave me a new idea of Fox, those two 
or three weird hours that night. It was as if I 
had never seen him before. The attacks grew 
more virulent as the night advanced. He groaned 
and raved, and said things — oh, the most as- 
tounding things in gibberish that upset one's 
nerves and everything else. At the height he 
sang hymns, and then, as the fits passed, relapsed 
into incredible clear-headedness. It gave me, I 
say, a new idea of Fox. It was as if, for all the 
time I had known him, he had been playing a part, 
and that only now, in the delirium of his pain, 
in the madness into which he drank himself, were 
fragments of the real man thrown to the surface. 
I grew, at last, almost afraid to be alone with 
him in the dead small hours of the morning, and 
longed for the time when I could go to bed among 
the uninspiring, marble-topped furniture of my 



AT noon of the next day I gave Fox his 
look in at his own flat. He was stretched 
^ upon a sofa — ^it was evident that I was 
to take such of his duties as were takeable. He 
greeted me with words to that effect. 

" Don't go filling the paper with your un- 
breeched geniuses," he said, genially, " and don't 
overwork yourself. There's really nothing to do, 
but you're being there will keep that little beast 
Evans from getting too cock-a-hoop. He'd like 
to jerk me out altogether; thinks they'd get on 
just as well without me." 

I expressed in my manner general contempt 
for Evans, and was taking my leave. 

" Oh, and — " Fox called after me. I turned 
back. " The Greenland mail ought to be in to- 
day. If Callan's contrived to get his flood-gates 
open, run his stuff in, there's a good chap. It's 
a feature and all that, you know." 

'^ I suppose Soane's to have a look at it>" I 



" Oh, yes," he answered; " but tell him to keep 
strictly to old Cal's lines — ^rub that into him. If 
he were to get drunk and run in some of his own 
tips it'd be awkward. People are expecting Cal's 
stuff. Tell you what: you take him out to lunch, 
eh? Keep an eye on the supplies, and ram it 
into him that he's got to stick to Cal's line of 

*' Soane's as bad as ever, then? " I asked. 

" Oh," Fox answered, " he'll be all right for 
the stuff If you get that one idea into him." A 
prolonged and acute fit of pain seized him. I 
fetched his man and left him to his rest. 

At the office of the Hour I was greeted by the 
handing to me of a proof of Callan's manuscript. 
Evans, the man across the screen, was the imme* 
diate agent. 

'' I suppose it's got to go in, so I had it set 
up," he said. 

" Oh, of course it's got to go in," I answered. 
" It's to go to Soane first, though." 

" Soane's not here yet," he answered. I noted 
the tone of sub-acid pleasure in his voice. Evans 
would have enjoyed a fiasco. 

" Oh, well," I answered, nonchalantly, " there's 



plenty of time. You allow space on those lines. 
I'll send round to hunt Soane up." 

I felt called to be upon my mettle. I didn't 
much care about the paper^ but I had a definite 
antipathy to being done by Evans — ^by a mad 
Welshman in a stubborn fit. I knew what was 
going to happen; knew that Evans would feign 
inconceivable stupidity, the sort of black stupid- 
ity that is at command of individuals of his 
primitive race. I was in for a day of petty wor- 
ries. In the circumstances it was a thing to be 
thankful for; it dragged my mind away from 
larger issues. One has no time for brooding 
when one is driving a horse in a jibbing fit. 

Evans was grimly conscious that I was mod- 
erately ignorant of technical details; he kept 
them well before my eyes all day long. 

At odd moments I tried to read Callan's arti- 
cle. It was impossible. It opened with a de- 
scription of the squalor of the Greenlander's life, 
and contained tawdry passages of local colour. 

I knew what was coming. This was the view 
of the Greenlanders of pre-Merschian Greenland, 
elaborated, after the manner of Callan — the Spe- 
cial Commissioner — so as to bring out the glory 



and virtue of the work of regeneration. Then in 
a gush of superlatives the work itself would be 
described. I knew quite well what was coming, 
and was temperamentally unable to read more 
than the first ten lines. 

Everything was going wrong. The printers 
developed one of their sudden crazes for asking 
idiotic questions. Their messengers came to 
Evans, Evans sent them round the pitch-pine 
screen to me. " Mr. Jackson wants to know 


The fourth of the messengers that I had de- 
spatched to Soane returned with the news that 
Soane would arrive at half-past nine. I sent out 
in search of the strongest coffee that the city 
afforded. Soane arrived. He had been ill, he 
said, very ill. He desired to be fortified with 
champagne. I produced the coffee. 

Soane was the son of an Irish peer. He had 
magnificent features — ^a little blurred nowadays 
— ^and a remainder of the grand manner. His 
nose was a marvel of classic workmanship, but 
the floods of time had reddened and speckled it 
— not offensively, but ironically; his hair was 
turning grey, his eyes were bloodshot, his heavy 



moustache rather ragged. He inspired one with 
the respect that one feels for a man who has lived 
and does not care a curse. He had a weird inter- 
mittent genius that made it worth Fox's while 
to put up with his lapses and his brutal snubs. 

I produced the coffee and pointed to the sofa 
of the night before, 

" Damn it," he said, " I'm ill, I teU you; I 
want . . ." 

" Exactly ! " I cut in. " You want a rest, old 
fellow*. Here's Cal's article. We want some- 
thing special about it. If you don't feel up to it 
I'll send round to Jenkins." 

" Damn Jenkins," he said; " I'm up to it." 

"You understand," I said, "you're to write 
strictly on Callan's lines. Don't insert any in- 
formation from extraneous sources. And make 
it as slashing as you like— on those lines." 

He grunted in acquiescence. I left him lying 
on the sofa, drinking the coffee. I had tenderly 
arranged the lights for him as Fox had arranged 
them the night before. As I went out to get 
my dinner I was comfortably aware of him, hold- 
ing the slips close to his muddled eyes and philo- 
sophically damning the nature of things. 


When I returned, Soane, from his sofa, said 
something that I did not catch — ^something about 
Callan and his article. 

" Oh, for God's sake," I answered, " don't 
worry me. Have some more coffee and stick to 
Cal's line of argument. That's what Fox said. 
I'm not responsible." 

" Deuced queer," Soane muttered. He began 
to scribble with a pencil. From the tone of his 
voice I knew that he had reached the precise 
stage at which something brilliant — ^the real thing 
of its kind — might be expected. 

Very late Soane finished his leader. He looked 
up as he wrote the last word. 

" I've got it written," he said. " But . . . 
I say, what the deuce is up? It's like being a tall 
clock with the mainspring breaking, this." 

I rang the bell for someone to take the copy 

" Your metaphor's too much for me, Soane," 
I said. 

" It's appropriate all the way along," he main- 
tained, " if you call me a mainspring. I've been 
wound up and wound up to write old de Mersch 
and his Greenland up — ^and it's been a tight 



wind, these days, I tell you. Then all of a 
sudden . . ." 

A boy appeared and carried off the copy. 

" All of a sudden," Soane resumed, " some- 
thing gives — I suppose something's given — and 
there's a whirr-rr-rr and the hands fly backwards 
and old de Mersch and Greenland bump to the 
bottom, like the weights." 

The boom of the great presses was rattling the 
window frames. Soane got up and walked to- 
ward one of the cupboards. 

" Dry work," he said; ** but the simile's just, 
isn't it? " 

I gave one swift step toward the bell-button 
beside the desk. The proof of Callan's article, 
from which Soane had been writing, lay a 
crumpled white streamer on the brown wood of 
Fox's desk. I made toward it. As I stretched 
out my hand the solution slipped into my mind, 
coming with no more noise than that of a bullet ; 
impinging with all the shock and remaining with 
all the pain. I had remembered the morning, 
over there in Paris, when she had told me that she 
had invited one of de Mersch's lieutenants to be- 
tray him by not concealing from Callan the real 



horrors of the Systeme Groenlandais — flogged, 
butchered, miserable natives, the famines, the 
vices, diseases, and the crimes. There came sud- 
denly before my eyes the tall narrow room in my 
aunt's house, the opening of the door and her en- 
try, followed by that of the woebegone governor 
of a province — the man who was to show Callan 
things — with his grating " Cest entendu . . ." 
I remembered the scene distinctly; her words; 
her looks; my utter unbelief. I remembered, too, 
that it had not saved me from a momentary 
sense of revolt against that inflexible intention 
of a treachery which was to be another step 
toward the inheritance of the earth. I had re- 
jected the very idea, and here it had come; it 
was confronting me with all its meaning and con- 
sequences. Callan had been shown things he had 
not been meant to see, and had written the truth 
as he had seen it. His article was a small thing 
in itself, but he had been sent out there with tre- 
mendous flourishes of de Mersch's trumpets. * He 
was the man who could be believed. De Mersch's 
supporters had practically said: " If he con- 
demns us we are indeed damned." And now that 
the condemnation had come, it meant ruin, as it 



seemed to me, for everybody I had known, 
worked for, seen, or heard of, during the last year 
of my life. It was ruin for Fox, for Churchill, for 
the ministers, and for the men who talk in railway 
carriages, for shopkeepers and for the Govern- 
ment; it was a menace to the institutions which 
hold us to the past, that are our guarantees for the 
future. The safety of everything one respected 
and believed in was involved in the disclosure of 
an atrocious fraud, and the disclosure was in my 
hands. For that night I had the power of the 
press in my keeping. People were waiting for 
this pronouncement. De Mersch's last card was ^ 
his philanthropy; his model state and his happy 

The drone of the presses made the floor under 
my feet quiver, and the whole building vibrated 
as if the earth itself had trembled. I was alone 
with my knowledge. Did she know; had she 
put the power in my hand? But I was alone, 

and I was free. 


I took up the proof and began to read, slant- 
ing the page to the fall of the light. It was a 
phrenetic indictment, but under the paltry rhct* 
oric of the man there was genuine indignation 



and pain. There were revolting details of cruelty 
to the miserable, helpless, and defenceless; there 
were greed, and self-seeking, stripped naked; 
but more revolting to see without a mask was 
that falsehood which had been hiding under the 
words that for ages had spurred men to noble 
deeds, to self-sacrifice, to heroism. What was 
appalling was the sudden perception that all 
the traditional ideals of honour, glory, consci- 
ence, had been committed to the upholding of a 
gigantic and atrocious fraud. The falsehood had 
spread stealthily, had eaten into the very heart 
of creeds and convictions that we lean upon on 
our passage between the past and the future. 
The old order of things had to live or perish with 
a lie. I saw all this with the intensity and clear- 
ness of a revelation ; I saw it as though I had been 
asleep through a year of work and dreams, and 
had awakened to the truth. I saw it all; I saw 
her intention. What was I to do? 

Without my marking its approach emotion 
was upon me. The fingers that held up the ex- 
tended slips tattooed one on another through its 
negligible thickness. 

" Pretty thick that," Soanc said. He was look- 



ing back at me from the cupboard he had opened. 
" I've rubbed it in, too . . . there'll be hats 
on the green to-morrow." He had his head in- 
side the cupboard, and his voice came to me 
hollowly. He extracted a large bottle with a gilt- 
foiled neck. 

" Won't it upset the apple cart to-morrow/* 
he said, very loudly; " won't it? " 

His voice acted on me as the slight shake upon 
a phial full of waiting chemicals; crystallised 
them suddenly with a little click. Everything 
suddenly grew very clear to me. I suddenly 
understood that all the tortuous intrigue hinged 
upon what I did in the next few minutes. It 
rested with me now to stretch out my hand to 
that button in the wall or to let the whole world — 
" the . . . the probity . . . that sort of 
thing," she had said — ^fall to pieces. The drone 
of the presses continued to make itself felt like 
the quiver of a suppressed emotion. I might 
stop them or I might not. It rested with 

Everybody was in my hands; they were quite 
small. If I let the thing go on, they would be 
done for utterly, and the new era would begin. 



Soane had got hold of a couple of long-stalked 
glasses. They clinked together whilst he 
searched the cupboard for something. 

" Eh, what? " he said. " It is pretty strong, 
isn't it? Ought to shake out some of the sup- 
porters, eh? Bill comes on to-morrow . . • 
do for that, I should think." He wanted a cork- 
screw very badly. 

But that was precisely it — ^it would " shake out 
some of the supporters," and give Gurnard his 
patent excuse. Churchill, I knew, would stick to 
his line, the saner policy. But so many of the 
men who had stuck to Churchill would fall away 
now, and Gurnard, of course, would lead them to 
his own triumph. 

It was a criminal verdict. Callan had gone out 
as a commissioner — with a good deal of drum- 
beating. And this was his report, this shriek. 
If it sounded across the house-tops — if I let it — 
good-by to the saner policy and to Churchill. It 
did not make any difference that Churchill's was 
the saner policy, because there was no one in the 
nation sane enough to see it. They wanted pu- 
rity in high places, and here was a definite, crim- 
inal indictment against de Mersch. And dc 



Mersch would — in a manner of speaking, have to 
be lynched, policy or no policy. 

She wanted this, and in all the earth she was 
the only desirable thing. If I thwarted her — she 
would . . . what would she do now? I 
looked at Soane. 

" What would happen if I stopped the 
presses? " I asked. Soane was twisting his cork- 
screw in the wire of the champagne bottle. 

It was fatal; I could see nothing on earth but 
her. What else was there in the world. Wine? 
The light of the sun? The wind on the heath? 
Honour! My God, what was honour to me if I 
could see nothing but her on earth? Would 
honour or wine or sun or wind ever give me what 
she could give? Let them go. 

" What would happen if what? " Soane grum- 
bled, '' D— fi this wire." 

" Oh, I was thinking about something," I an- 
swered. The wire gave with a little snap and he 
began to ease the cork. Was I to let the light 
pass me by for the sake of ... of Fox, for 
instance, who trusted me? Well, let Fox go. 
And Churchill and what Churchill stood for; the 
probity; the greatness and the spirit of the past 


from which had sprung my conscience and the 
consciences of the sleeping millions around me 
— the woman at the poultry show with her 
farmers and shopkeepers. Let them go too. 

Soane put into my hand one of his charged 
glasses. He seemed to rise out of the infinite, a 
forgotten shape. I sat down at the desk opposite 

" Deuced good idea," he said, suddenly, ** to 
stop the confounded presses and spoof old Fox. 
He's up to some devilry. And, by Jove, I'd like 
to get my knife in him; Jove, I would. And 
then chuck up everything and leave for the Sand- 
wich Islands. I'm sick of this life, this dog's life. 
. . . One might have made a pile though, if 
one'd known this smash was coming. But one 
can't get at the innards of things. — No such luck 
— no such luck, eh? " I looked at him stupidly; 
took in his blood-shot eyes and his ruffled griz- 
zling hair. I wondered who he was. " // s^agis- 
salt rf^ . . . ? " I seemed to be back in Paris, 
I couldn't think of what I had been thinking of. 
I drank his glass of wine and he filled me another, 
I drank that too. 

Ah y€s--even then the thing wasn't settled^ 



even now that I had recognized that Fox and 
the others were of no account . . . What re- 
mained was to prove to her that I wasn't a mere 
chattel, a piece in the game. I was at the very 
heart of the thing. After all, it was chance that 
had put me there, the blind chance of all the 
little things that lead in the inevitable, the future. 
If, now, T thwarted her, she would . . . what 
would she do? She would have to begin all over 
again. She wouldn't want to be revenged; she 
wasn't revengeful. But how if she would never 
lock upon me again? 

The thing had reduced itself to a mere matter 
of policy. Or was it passion? 

A clatter of the wheels of heavy carts and of 
the hoofs of heavy horses on granite struck like 
hammer blows on my ears, coming from the well 
of the court-yard below. Soane had finished his 
bottle and was walking to the cupboard. He 
paused at the window and stood looking down. 

" Strong beggars, those porters," he said; " I 
couldn't carry that weight of paper — not with 
my rot on it, let alone Callan's. You'd think it 
would break down the carts." 

I understood that they were loading the carts 



for the newspaper mails. There was still time to 
stop them. I got up and went toward the win- 
dow, very swiftly. I was going to call to them 
to stop loading. I threw the casement open. 

Of course, I did not stop them. The solution 
flashed on me with the breath of the raw air. It 
was ridiculously simple. If I thwarted her, well, 
she would respect me. But her business in life 
was the inheritance of the earth, and, however 
much she might respect me — or by so much the 
more — ^she would recognise that I was a force to 
deflect her from the right line — "a disease for 
me," she had said. 

" What I have to do," I said, " is to show her 
that . . . that I had her in my hands and that 
I co-operated loyally." 

The thing was so simple that I triumphed; 
triumphed with the full glow of wine, triumphed 
looking down into that murky court-yard where 
the lanthorns danced about in the rays of a great 
arc lamp. The gilt letters scattered all over the 
windows blazed forth the names of Fox's innum- 
erable ventures. Well, he ... he had been 
a power, but I triumphed. I had co-operated 



loyally with the powers of the future, though I 
wanted no share in the inheritance of the earth. 
Only, I was going to push into the future. One 
of the great carts got into motion amidst a shower 
of sounds that whirled upward round and round 
the well. The black hood swayed like the shoul- 
ders of an elephant as it passed beneath my feet 
under the arch. It disappeared — ^it was co- 
operating too ; in a few hours people at the other 
end of the country— of the world — would be rais- 
ing their hands. Oh, yes, it was co-operating 

I closed the window. Soane was holding a 
champagne bottle in one hand. In the other he 
had a paper knife of Fox's — a metal thing, a 
Japanese dagger or a Deccan knife. He sliced 
the neck off the bottle. 

" Thought you were going to throw yourself 
out," he said; " I wouldn't stop you. Fm sick of 
it . . . sick." 

" Look at this . . . to-night . . . this 
infernal trick of Fox's . . . And I helped 
too . . . Why? .^^ • I must eat." He 
paused "... and drink," he added. " But 
there is starvation for no end of fools in this little 



move. A few will be losing their good names 
too ... I don't care, I'm off . . . By-the- 
by c : What is he doing it for ? Money ? Funk ? 
— You ought to know. You must be in it too. 
It's not hunger with you. Wonderful what peo- 
ple will do to keep their pet vice going . . . 
Eh? " He swayed a little. " You don't drink— 
what's your pet vice? " 

He looked at me very defiantly, clutching 
the neck of the empty bottle. His drunken and 
overbearing glare seemed to force upon me a 
complicity in his squalid bargain with life, re- 
warded by a squalid freedom. He was pitiful 
and odious to my eyes; and somehow in a mo- 
ment he appeared menacing. 

** You can't frighten me," I said, in response to 
the strange fear he had inspired. " No one can 
frighten me now." A sense of my inaccessibility 
was the first taste of an achieved triumph. I 
had done with fear. The poor devil before me 
appeared infinitely remote. He was lost; but 
he was only one of the lost; one of those that I 
could see already overwhelmed by the rush from 
the flood-gates opened at my touch. He would 
be destroyed in good company; swept out of my 



sight together with the past they had known and 
with the future they had waited for. But he was 
odious. " I am done with you," I said. 

" Eh; what? . . . Who wants to frighten? 
, . . I wanted to know what's your pet vice 
. . . Won't tell? You might safely — Fm off 
. . . No . . . Want to tell me mine? . . . 
No time . . . I'm off . . • Ask the police- 
man . . . crossing sweeper will do . • . 
I'm going." 

" You will have to," I said. 

" What . . . Dismiss me? . . . Throw 
the indispensable Soane overboard like a 
squeezed lemon? . . . Would you? . . . What 
would Fox say? ... Eh? But you can't, my 
boy — not you. Tell you . . . tell you . . . 
can't . . . Beforehand with you . . . sick 
of it . . . Fm off ... to the Islands — the 
Islands of the Blest . . . I'm going to be an 
. . . no, not an angel like Fox ... an 
. . . oh, a beachcomber. Lie on white sand, 
in the sun . . . blue sky and palm-trees — 
eh? . . . S. S. Waikato. Fm off . . . Come 
. too . . . lark . . . dismiss yourself out of 
all this. Warm sand, warm, mind you . . . 



you won't?" He had an injured expression. 
" Well, Fm off. See me into the cab, old chap, 
you're a decent fellow after all . . . not one 
of these beggars who would sell their best friend 
. . . for a little money . . . or some woman. 
Will see the last of me . . ." 

I didn't believe he would reach the South Seas, 
but I went downstairs and watched him march up 
the street with a slight stagger under the pallid 
dawn. I suppose it was the lingering chill of the 
night that made me shiver. I felt unbounded 
confidence in the future, there was nothing now 
between her and me. The echo of my footsteps 
on the flagstones accompanied me, filling the 
empty earth with the sound of my progress. 



I WALKED along, got to my club and up- 
stairs into my room peaceably. A feeling 
of entire tranquillity had come over me. I 
rested after a strife which had issued in a victory 
whose meaning was too great to comprehend 
and enjoy at once. I only knew that it was great 
because there seemed nothing more left to do. 
Everything reposed within me — even conscience, 
even memory, reposed as in death. I had risen 
above them, and my thoughts moved serenely 
as in a new light, as men move in sunshine above 
the graves of the forgotten dead. I felt like a 
man at the beginning of a long holiday — ^an in- 
definite space of idleness with some great felicity 
— a felicity too great for words, too great for joy 
— at the end. Everything was delicious and 
vague ; there were no shapes, no persons. Names 
flitted through my mind — Fox, Churchill, my 
aunt; but they were living people seen from 
above, flitting in the dusk, without individuality; 



things that moved below me in a valley from 
which I had emerged. I must have been dream- 
ing of them. 

I know I dreamed of her. She alone was 
distinct among these shapes. She appeared 
dazzling; resplendent with a splendid calmness, 
and I braced myself to the shock of love, the love 
I had known, that all men had known; but 
greater, transcendental, almost terrible, a fit re- 
ward for the sacrifice of a whole past. Suddenly 
she spoke. I heard a sound like the rustling of 
a wind through trees, and I felt the shock of an 
unknown emotion made up of fear and of enthusi- 
asm, as though she had been not a woman but 
only a voice crying strange, unknown words in 
inspiring tones, promising and cruel, without any 
passion of love or hate. I listened. It was like 
the wind in the trees of a little wood. No hate 
. . . no love. No love. There was a crash 
as of a falling temple. I was borne to the earth, 
overwhelmed, crushed by an immensity of ruin 
and of sorrow. I opened my eyes and saw the 
sun shining through the window-blinds. 

I seem to remember I was surprised at it. I 
don't know why. Perhaps the lingering effect 



of the ruin in the dream, which had involved sun- 
shine itself. I liked it though, and lay for a 
time enjoying the — ^what shall I say? — usualness 
of it. The sunshine of yesterday — of to-morrow. 
It occurred to me that the morning must be far 
advanced, and I got up briskly, as a man rises 
to his work. But as soon as I got on my legs I 
felt as if I had already over-worked myself. In 
reality there was nothing to do. All my muscles 
twitched with fatigue. I had experienced the 
same sensations once after an hour's desperate 
swimming to save myself from being carried out 
to sea by the tide. 

No. There was nothing to do. I descended 
the staircase, and an utter sense of aimlessness 
drove me out through the big doors, which 
swung behind me without noise. I turned toward 
the river, and on the broad embankment the sun- 
shine enveloped me, friendly, familiar, and warm 
like the care of an old friend. A black dumb 
barge drifted, clumsy and empty, and the solitary 
man in it wrestled with the heavy sweep, strain* 
ing his arms, throwing his face up to the sky at 
every effort. He knew what he was doing, 
though it was the river that did his work for him. 

i 295 ] 


His exertions impressed me with the idea that 
I too had something to do. Certainly I had. 
One always has. Somehow I could not remem- 
ber. It was intolerable, and even alarming, this 
blank, this emptiness of the many hours before 
night came again, till suddenly, it dawned upon 
me I had to make some extracts in the British 
Museum for our " Cromwell" Our Cromwell. 
There was no Cromwell ; he had lived, had worked 
for the future — ^and now he had ceased to exist. 
His future — our past, had come to an end. The 
barge with the man still straining at the oar had 
gone out of sight under the arch of the bridge, 
as through a gate into another world. A bizarre 
sense of solitude stole upon me, and I turned 
my back upon the river as empty as my day. 
Hansoms, broughams, streamed with a continu- 
ous muffled roll of wheels and a beat of hoofs. A 
big dray put in a note of thunder and a clank of 
chains. I found myself curiously unable to un- 
derstand what possible purpose remained to keep 
them in motion. The past that had made them 
had come to an end, and their future had been 
devoured by a new conception. And what of 
Churchill? He, too, had worked for the future; 



he would live on^ but he had already ceased to 
exist. I had evoked him in this poignant 
thought and he came not alone. He came with 
a train of all the vanquished in this stealthy, un- 
seen contest for an immense stake in which I was 
one of the victors. They crowded upon me. I 
saw Fox, Polehampton, de Mersch himself, 
crowds of figures without a name, women with 
whom I had fancied myself in love, men I had 
shaken by the hand. Lea's reproachful, ironical 
face. They were near; near enough to touch; 
nearer. I did not only see them, I absolutely felt 
them all. Their tumultuous and silent stir seemed 
to raise a tumult in my breast. 

I sprang suddenly to my feet — a sensation that 
I had had before, that was not new to me, a re- 
membered fear, had me fast ; a remembered voice 
seemed to speak clearly incomprehensible words 
that had moved me before. The sheer faces of 
the enormous buildings near at hand seemed to 
topple forwards like cliffs in an earthquake, and 
for an instant I saw beyond them into unknown 
depths that I had seen into before. It was as 
if the shadow of annihilation had passed over 
them beneath the sunshine, Then they re* 



turned to rest; motionless^ but with a changed 

" This is too absurd," I said to myself, " I am 
not well." I was certainly unfit for any sort of 
work. " But I must get through the day some- 
how." To-morrow . . . to-morrow ... 
I had a pale vision of her face as it had appeared 
to me at sunset on the first day I had met her. 

I went back to my club — to lunch, of course. 
I had no appetite, but I was tormented by the 
idea of an interminable afternoon before me. I 
sat idly for a long time. Behind my back two 
men were talking. 

" Churchill ... oh, no better than the rest. 
He only wants to be found out. If Fve any nose 
for that sort of thing, there's something in the 
air. It's absurd to be told that he knew nothing 
about it. . . . You've seen the Hour? " I 
got up to go away, but suddenly found myself 
standing by their table. 

" You are unjust," I said. They looked up at 
me together with an immense surprise. I didn't 
know them and I passed on. But I heard one of 
them ask: 

" Who's that fellow? " . . . 



" Oh — ^Etchingham Granger . . ." 

" Is he queer? " the other postulated. 

I went slowly down the great staircase. A 
knot of men was huddled round the tape machine; 
others came, half trotting, half walking, to peer 
over heads, under arm-pits. 

" What's the matter with that thing? " I asked 
of one of them. 

" Oh, Grogram's up," he said, and passed me. 
Someone from a point of vantage read out : 

" The Leader of the House (Sir C Grogram, 
Devonport) said that . ^ ." The words came 
haltingly to my ears as the man's voice followed 
the jerks of the little instrument ". . . the 
Government obviously could not . . . alter 
its policy at . . . eleventh hour ... at 
dictates of . . . quite irresponsible person 
in one of . . . the daily . . . papers." 

I was wondering whether it was Soane or Cal- 
kn who was poor old Grogram's ** quite irre- 
sponsible person," when I caught the sound of 
Gurnard's name. I turned irritably away. I 
didn't want to hear that fool read out the words 
of that ... It was like the warning croak 
of a raven in an old ballad. 



I began desultorily to descend to the smoking* 
room. In the Cimmerian gloom of the stairway 
the voice of a pursuer hailed me. 

" I say, Granger ! I say. Granger ! " 

I looked back. The man was one of the rats of 
the lower journalism, large-boned, rubicund, asth- 
matic; a mass of flesh that might, to the advan- 
tage of his country and himself, have served as a 
cavalry trooper. He puffed stertorously down 
towards me. 

'' I say, I say," his breath came rattling and 
wheezing. " What's up at the Hour? *' 

" I'm sure I don't know," I answered curtly. 

**They said you took it yesterday. You've 
been playing the very devil, haven't you? But I 
suppose it was not off your own bat? '^ 

" Oh, I never play off my own bat," I an- 

" Of course I don't want to intrude," he said 
again. In the gloom I was beginning to discern 
the workings of the tortured apoplectic face. 
" But, I say, what's de Mersch's little game? " 

" You'd better ask him," I answered. It was 
incredibly hateful, this satyr's mask in the dim 



"He's not in London," it answered, with a 
wink of the creased eyelids, " but, I suppose, now. 
Fox and de Mersch haven't had a row, now, have 
they? " 

I did not answer. The thing was wearily hate- 
ful, and this was only the beginning. Hundreds 
more would be asking the same question in a few 

The head wagged on the mountainous shoul- 

" Looks fishy," he said. I recognised that, to 
force words from me, he was threatening a kind 
of blackmail. Another voice began to call from 
the top of the stairs — 

" I say, Granger ! I say, Granger . . ." 

I pushed the folding-doors apart and went 
slowly down the gloomy room. I heard the 
doors swing again, and footsteps patter on the 
matting behind me. I did not turn; the man 
came round me and looked at my face. It 
was Polehampton. There were tears in his 

" I say," he said, " I say, what does it mean; 
what does it mean? " It was very difficult for me 
to look at him. " I tell you . . ." he began 



again. He had the dictatorial air of a very small, 
quite hopeless man, a man mystified by a blow 
of unknown provenance. " I tell you . . ." 
he began again. 

"But what has it to do with me?" I said 

" Oh, but you . . . you advised me to buy." 
He had become supplicatory. " Didn't you, now? 
. . . Didn't you . . . You said, you re- 
member . . . that ..." I didn't answer 
the man. What had I got to say? He remained 
looking intently at me, as if it were of the great- 
est moment to him that I should make the ac- 
knowledgment and share the blame — ^as if it 
would take an immense load from his shoulders. 
I couldn't do it ; I hated him. 

" Didn't you," he began categorically; " didn't 
you advise me to buy those debentures of de 
Mersch's? " I did not answer. 

" What does it all mean? " he said again. " If 
this bill doesn't get through, I tell you I shall be 
ruined. And they say that Mr. Gurnard is going 
to smash it. They are all saying it, up there; 
and that you — ^you on the Hour ... are 
. • . are responsible." He took out a hand- 



kerchief and began to blow his nose. I didn't 
say a single word. 

" But what's to be done? " he started again; 
" what's to be done ... I tell you . . . My 
daughter, you know, she's very brave, she said 
to me this morning she could work; but she 
couldn't, you know; she's not been brought up 
to that sort of thing . . . not even type- 
writing . . . and so . . . we're all ruined 
. . . everyone of us. And I've more than fifty 
hands, counting Mr. Lea, and they'll all have to 
go. It's horrible ... I trusted you, Granger, 
you know; I trusted you, and they say up there 
that you ..." I turned away from him. I 
couldn't bear to see the bewildered fear in his 
eyes. " So many of us," he began again, " every- 
one I know ... I told them to buy and 
. . . But you might have let us know. Gran- 
ger, you might have. Think of my poor daugh- 

I wanted to say something to the man, wanted 
to horribly; but there wasn't anything; to say — 
not a word. I was sorry. I took up a paper 
that sprawled on one of the purple ottomans. 
I stood with my back to this haggard man and 
pretended to read. 



I noticed incredulously that I was swaying on 
my legs. I looked round me. Two old men were 
asleep in armchairs under the gloomy windows. 
One had his head thrown back, the other was 
crumpled forward into himself; his frail, white 
hand just touched the floor. A little further off 
two young men were talking; they had the air 
of conspirators over their empty coffee cups. 

I was conscious that Polehampton had left me, 
that he had gone from behind me; but I don't 
think I was conscious of the passage of time. 
God knows how long I stood there. Now and 
then I saw Polehampton's face before my eyes, 
with the panic-stricken eyes, the rufHed hair, the 
lines of tears seaming the cheeks, seeming to 
look out at me from the crumple of the paper 
that I held. I knew too, that there were faces 
like that everywhere ; everywhere, faces of panic- 
stricken little people of no more account than 
the dead in graveyards, just the material to 
make graveyards, nothing more; little people of 
absolutely no use but just to suffer horribly from 
this blow coming upon them from nowhere. It 
had never occurred to me at the time that their 
iliheritance had passed to me . . . to us, 



And yet, I began to wonder stupidly, what was 
the difference between me to-day and me yester- 
day. There wasn't any, not any at all. Only 
to-day I had nothing more to do. 

The doors at the end of the room flew open, 
as if burst by a great outcry penetrating from 
without, and a man appeared running up the 
room — one of those men who bear news eter- 
nally, who catch the distant clamour and carry 
it into quiet streets. Why did he disturb me? 
Did I want to hear his news? I wanted to think 
of Churchill; to think of how to explain. . . • 
The man was running up the room. 

" I say ... I say, you beggars . . ." 
I was beginning to wonder how it was that I 
felt such an absolute conviction of being alone, 
and it was then, I believe, that in this solitude 
that had descended upon my soul I seemed to 
see the shape of an approaching Nemesis. It 
is permitted to no man to break with his past, 
with the past of his kind, and to throw away the 
treasure of his future. I began to suspect I had 
gained nothing; I began to understand that even 
such a catastrophe was possible. I sat down in 
the nearest chair. Then my fear passed away. 



The room was filling; it hummed with excited 
voices. " Churchill ! No better than the others/* 
I heard somebody saying. Two men had stopped 
talking. They were middle-aged, a little gray, 
and ruddy. The face of one was angry, and of 
the other sad. *' He wanted only to be found 
out. What a fall in the mud." " No matter," 
said the other, " one is made a little sad. He 
stood for everything I had been pinning my 
faith to." They passed on. A brazen voice bel* 
lowed in the distance. ** The greatest fall of any 
minister that ever was." A tall, heavy journalist 
in a white waistcoat was the centre of a group 
that turned slowly upon itself, gathering bulk. 
" Done for — stood up to the last. I saw him 
get into his brougham. The police had a job 
. . . There's quite a riot down there . . . 
Pale as a ghost. Gurnard? Gurnard magnifi- 
cent. Very cool and in his best form. Threw 
them over without as much as a wink. Out- 
raged conscience speech. Magnificent. Why 
it's the chance of his life." . . . And then for 
a time the voices and the faces seemed to pass 
away and die out. I had dropped my paper, and 
as I stooped to pick it up the voices returned. 



— "Granger . . . Etchingham Granger 
• • . Sister is going to marry Gurnard.'* 

I got on to my hands and knees to pick up 
the paper, of course. What I did not under- 
stand was where the water came from. Other- 
wise it was pretty clear. Somebody seemed to 
be in a fit. No, he wasn't drunk; look at his 
teeth. What did they want to look at his teeth 
for; was he a horse? 

It must have been I that was in the fit. There 
were a lot of men round me, the front row on 
their knees — holding me, some of them. A man 
in a red coat and plush breeches — sl waiter — ^was 
holding a glass of water; another had a small 
bottle. They were talking about me under their 
breaths. At one end of the horseshoe someone 

" He's the man who . . ." Then he caught 
my eye. He lowered his voice, and the abomin- 
able whisper ran round among the heads. It was 
easy to guess : " the man who was got at." I 
was to be that for the rest of my life. I was to be 
famous at last. There came the desire to be out 
of it 



I struggled to my feet. 

Someone said: "Feel better now?" I an- 
swered : " I— oh, I've got to go and see . . ." 

It was rather difficult to speak distinctly; my 
tongue got in the way. But I strove to im- 
press the fool with the idea that I had affairs 
that must be attended to — that I had private 

" You aren't fit. Let me . . ." 

I pushed him roughly aside — ^what business 
was it of his? I slunk hastily out of the room. 
The others remained. I knew what they were 
going to do— to talk things over, to gabble about 
" the man who . . ." 

It was treacherous walking, that tessellated 
pavement in the hall. Someone said : . " Hullo, 
Granger," as I passed. I took no notice. 

Where did I wish to go to? There was no one 
who could minister to me; the whole world had 
resolved itself into a vast solitary city of closed 
doors. I had no friend — no one. But I must go 
somewhere, must hide somewhere, must speak 
to someone. I mumbled the address of Fox to 
a cabman. Some idea of expiation must have 
been in my mind; some idea of seeing the thing 



through, mingled with that necessity for talking 
to someone — anyone. 

I was afraid too; not of Fox's rage; not even 
of anything that he could do— but of the sight 
of his despair. He had become a tragic figure. 

I reached his flat and I had said : " It is I," 
and again, " It is I," and he had not stirred. 
He was lying on the sofa under a rug, motion- 
less as a corpse. I had paced up and down 
the room. I remember that the pile of the 
carpet was so long that it was impossible to 
walk upon it easily. Everything else in the 
room was conceived in an exuberance of luxury 
that now had something of the macabre in it. 
It was that now— before, it had been unclean. 
There was a great bed whose lines suggested 
sinking softness, a glaring yellow satin coverlet, 
vast, like a sea. The walls were covered with 
yellow satin, the windows draped with lace worth 
a king's ransom, the light was softened, the air 
dead, the sounds hung slumbrously. And, in the 
centre of it, that motionless body. It stirred, 
pivoted on some central axis beneath the rug, 
and faced me sitting. There was no look of en- 
quiry in the bloodshot eyes — ^they turned dully 



upon me^ topaz-coloured in a blood-red setting. 
There was no expression in the suffused face. 

"You want?" he said, in a voice that was 
august by dint of hopelessness. 

" I want to explain," I said. I had no idea 
that this was what I had come for. 

He answered only : " You ! " He had the air 
of one speaking to something infinitely unim- 
portant. It was as if I had no inkling of the real 

With a bravery of desperation I began to ex- 
plain that I hadn't stumbled into the thing; that 
I had acted open-eyed; for my own ends . . . 
"My own ends." I repeated it several times. 
I wanted him to understand, and I did explain. 
I kept nothing from him; neither her coming, 
nor her words, nor my feelings. I had gone in 
with my eyes open. 

For the first time Fox looked at me as if I 
were a sentient being. " Oh, you know that 
much," he said listlessly. 

" It's no disgrace to have gone under to her," 
I said; " we had to." His despair seemed to link 
him into one " we " with myself. I wanted to 
put heart into him. I don't know why. 



He didn't look at me again. 

" Oh, that;' he said dully, " I— I understand 
who you mean ... If I had known before 
I might have done something. But she came 
of a higher plane." He seemed to be talking 
to himself. The half-forgotten horror grew 
large; I remembered that she had said that 
Fox, like herself, was one of a race apart, that 
was to supersede us — ^Dimensionists. And, whea 
I looked at him now, it was plain to me that 
he was of a race different to my own, just as he 
had always seemed different from any other man. 
He had had a different tone in triumph; he was 
different now, in his despair. He went on : "I 
might have managed Gurnard alone, but I never 
thought of her coming. You see one does one's 
best, but, somehow, here one grows rather blind. 
I ought to have stuck to Gurnard, of course.; 
never to have broken with him. We ought all 
to have kept together, — ^But I kept my end up 
as long as he was alone.^' 

He went on talking in an expressionless 
monotone, perhaps to himself, perhaps to me. 
I listened as one listens to unmeaning sounds — 
to that of a distant train at night. He was look- 


ing at the floor, his ttiouth movifig mechanically. 
He sat perfectly squate, one hand on either kne^ 
his back bowed out, his head drooping forward. 
It was as if there were no more muscular force 
in the whole man — ^as if he were one of those 
ancient things one seed sunning themselves on 
betiches by the walls of workhouses. 

" But," I said angrily, " it's not all over, you 
can make a fight for it still." 

" You don't seem to understand," he answered, 
" ft is all over — the whole thing. I ran Churchill 
and his conscious rectitude gang for all they 
were worth . . . Well, I liked them, I was 
a fool to give way to pity. — But I did* — One 
grows weak among people like you. Of course 
I knew that their day was over . . . And 
it's all over^'' he said again after a long 

" And what will you dof " I asked, half hys- 

" I don't just know," he answ^^; " we'vf 
tipne of us gone under before. There haven't 
been enough really to clash until she came." 

The dead tranquillity of his manner was over- 
whelming; there was nothing to be said. I waa 




in the presence of a man who was not as I was, 
whose standard of values, absolute to himself, 
was not to be measured by any of mine. 

" I suppose I shall cut my throat," he began 

I noticed with impersonal astonishment that 
the length of my right side was covered with the 
dust of a floor. In my restless motions I came 
opposite the fireplace. Above it hung a number 
of tiny, jewelled frames, containing daubs of an 
astonishing lewdness. The riddle grew painful. 
What kind of a being could conceive this im- 
possibly barbaric room, could enshrine those im- 
possibly crude designs, and then fold his hands? 
I turned fiercely upon him. " But you are rich 
enough to enjoy life," I said. 

" What's that? " he asked wearily. 

" In the name of God," I shouted, " what do 
you work for — what have you been plotting and 
plotting for, if not to enjoy your life at the last? " 
He made a small indefinite motion of ignoranct) 
as if I had propounded to him a problem that he 

could not solve, that he did not think worth the 
Tt came to me as the confirmation of a sua- 

1 3t3 1 


picion — that motion. They had no joy, these 
people who were to supersede us; their clear- 
sightedness did nothing more for them than just 
that enabling them to spread desolation among 
us and take our places. It had been in her 
manner all along, she was like Fate; like the 
abominable Fate that desolates the whole length 
of our lives; that leaves of our hopes, of our 
plans, nothing but a hideous jumble of frag- 
ments like those of statues, smashed by ham- 
mers; the senseless, inscrutable, joyless Fate 
that we hate, and that debases us forever and 
ever. She had been all that to me . . . and 
to how many more? 

" I used to be a decent personality," I vocifer- 
ated at him. " Do you hear — decent. I could 
look a man in the face. And you cannot even 
enjoy. What do you come for? What do you 
live for? What is at the end of it all? " 

" Ah, if I knew . . ." he answered, neg li« 



I WANTED to sec her, to finish it one way 
or another, and, at my aunt's house, I 
found her standing in an immense white 
room; waiting for me. There was a profusion 
of light. It left her absolutely shadowless, like 
a white statue in a gallery; inscrutable. 

" I have come," I said. I had it in my mind 
to say: "Because there is nothing for me to 
do on earth." But I did not, I looked at her 

" You have come," she repeated. She had no 
expression in her voice, in her eyes. It was as 
if I were nothing to her; as if I were the picture 
of a man. Well, that was it; I was a picture, 
she a statue. *' I did it," I said at last. 

" And you want? " she asked. 

" You know," I answered, *' I want my . . ." 
I could not think of the word. It was either a 
reward or a just due. She looked at me, quite 
suddenly. It made an effect as if the Venus of 



Milo had turned its head toward me. She be* 
gan to speak, as if the statue were speaking, as 
if a passing bell were speaking; recording a 
passing passionlessly. 

"You have done nothing at all/* she said. 

"And yet," I said, "I was at the heart 
of it all" 

" Nothing at all," she repeated. " You were 
at the heart, yes; but at the heart of a machine." 
Her words carried a sort of strong conviction. 
I seemed suddenly to see an immense machine 
— unconcerned, soulless, but all its parts made 
up of bodies of men : a great mill grinding out 
the dust of centuries; a great wine-press. She 
was continuing her speech. 

"As for you — ^you are only a detail, like all 
the others; you were set in a place because you 
would act as you did. It was in your character. 
We inherit the earth and you, your day is over 
• . . You remember that day, when I found 
you — ^the first day? " 

I remembered that day. It was on the down- 
land, under the immense sky, amid the sound of 
larks. She had explained the nature of things. 



She had talked expressionlessly in pregnant 
words; she was talking now. I knew no more 
of her to-day, after all these days, after I had 
given up to her my past and my future. 

" You remember that day. I was looking for 
such a man^ and I found you." 

"And you ..." I said, "you have done 
this thing ! Think of it ! ... I have nobody 
— ^nothing — ^nowhere in the world, I cannot 
look a man in the face, not even Churchill. I 
can never go to him again." I paused, expect- 
ing a sign of softening. None came. " I have 
parted with my past and you tell me there is no 

" None," she echoed. Then, coldly, as a swan 
takes the water, she began to speak : 

" Well, yes ! I've hurt you. You have suffered 
and in your pain you think me vile, but remember 
that for ages the virtue of to-morrow has been 
the vileness of to-day. That which outstrips 
one, one calls vile. My virtue lies in gaining my 
end. Pity for you would have been a crime for 
me. You have suffered. And then? What 
are you to me ? As I came among you I am to- 
day; that is where I am triumphant and virtu- 



ous. I have succeeded. When I came here 
I came into a world of— of shadows of men. 
What were their passions, their joys, their fears, 
their despair, their outcry, to me? If I had ears, 
my virtue was to close them to the cries. There 
was no other way. There was one of us — ^your 
friend Fox, I mean. He came into the world, 
but had not the virtue to hold himself aloof. 
He has told you, ' One goes blind down here.* 
He began to feel a little like the people round 
him. He contracted likings and dislikings. He 
liked you . . . and you betrayed him. So 
he went under. He grew blind down here. I 
have not grown blind. I see as I saw. I move 
as I did in a world of ... of the pictures 
of men. They despair. I hear groans . . • 
well, they are the groans of the dead to me. 
This to you, down near it, is a mass of tortu- 
ous intrigue; vile in its pettiest detail. But 
come further off; stand beside me, and what 
does it look like? It is a mighty engine of 
disintegration. It has crushed out a whole fab- 
ric, a whole plane of society. It has done that. 
I guided it. I had to have my eyes on every 
little strand of it; to be forever on the watch. 




"And now I stand alone. Yesterday that 
fabric was everything to you; it seemed solid 
enough. And where is it to-day? What is it 
to you more than to me? There stood Virtue 
. . . and Probity . . . and all the things 
that all those people stood for. Well, to-day 
they are gone; the very belief in them is gone. 
Who will believe in them, now that it is proved 
that their tools were people . • . like de 
Mersch? And it was I that did it. That, too, 
is to be accounted to me for virtue. 

" Well, I have inherited the earth. I am the 
worm at the very heart of the rose of it. You 
are thinking that all that I hav« gained is the 
hand of Gurnard. But it is more than that. 
It is a matter of a chess-board; and Gurnard is 
the only piece that remains. And I am the hand 
that moves him. As for a marriage; well, it is 
a marriage of minds, a union for a common pur- 
pose. But mine is the master mind. As for 
you. Well, you have parted with your past 
• . . and there is no future for you. That is 
true. You have nowhere to go to; have noth- 
ing left, nothing in the world. That is true 
too. But what is that to me? A set of fact&— 

1 319 1 


that you have parted with your past and have 
no future. You had to do the work; I had to 
make you do it. I chose you because you 
would do it That is all ... I knew you; 
knew your secret places, your weaknesses. That 
is my power. I stand for the Inevitable, for the 
future that goes on its way; you for the past that 
lies by the roadside. If for your sake I had 
swerved one jot from my allotted course, I should 
have been untrue. There was a danger, once, 
for a minute. . . . But I stood out against it. 
What would you have had me do? Go under as 
Fox went under? Speak like him, look as he 
looks now ... Me? Well, I did not. 

** I was in the hands of the future; I never 
swerved; I went on my way. I had to judge 
men as I judged you; to corrupt, as I corrupted 
you. I cajoled; I bribed; I held out hopes; 
and with every one, as with you, I succeeded. It 
is in that power that the secret of the greatness 
which is virtue, lies. I had to set about a work 
of art, of an art strange to you; as strange, as 
alien as the arts of dead peoples. You are the 
dead now, mine the art of an ensuing day. All 
that remains to you is to fold your hands and 

1 320] 


wonder, as you wondered before the gates of 
Nineveh. I had to sound the knell of the old 
order; of your virtues, of your honours, of your 
faiths, of ... of altruism, if you like. Well, 
it is sounded. I was forever on the watch; I 
foresaw; I forestalled; I have never rested. And 
you ..." 
"And I . . ." I said, *' I only loved you.'' 
There was a silence. I seemed for a moment 
to see myself a tenuous, bodiless thing, like a 
ghost in a bottomless cleft between the past 
and the to come. And I was to be that for* 


You only loved me," she repeated. " Yes, 
you loved me. But what claim upon me does 
that give you? You loved me. . . . Well, 
if I had loved you it would have given you a 
claim. ... All your misery; your heart-ache 
comes from . . . from love; your love for me, 
your love for the things of the past, for what was 
doomed. . . . You loved the others too • . . 
in a way, and you betrayed them and you are 
wretched. If you had not loved them you would 
not be wretched now; if you had not loved me 
you would not have betrayed your^— your very 

[ 321 ] 


self. At the first you stood alone; as mucK 
alone as I. All these people were nothing to 
you. I was nothing to you. But you must 
needs love them and me. You should have let 
them remain nothing to the end. But you did 
not. What were they to you? — ^Shapes, shadows 
on a sheet. They looked real. But were they 
— ^any one of them? You will never see them 
again; you will never see me again; we shall 
be all parts of a past of shadows. If you had 
been as I am, you could have looked back upon 
them unmoved or could have forgotten. . . . 
But you . . . ' you only loved ' and you will 
have no more ease. And, even now, it is only 
yourself that matters. It is because you broke; 
because you were false to your standards at a 
supreme moment; because you have discovered 
that your honour will not help you to stand a 
strain. It is not the thought of the harm you 
have done the others . . . What are they — 
what is Qiurchill who has fallen or Fox who is 
dead — ^to you now? It is yourself that you be- 
moan. That IS your tragedy, that you can never 
go again to Churchill with the old look in your 
eyes, that you can never go to anyone for fear 


of contempt. • . , Oh, I know you, I know 

She knew me. It was true, what she said. 

I had had my eyes on the gpround all this 
while; now I looked at her, trying to realise that 
I should never see her again. It was impossible. 
There was that intense beauty, that shadowless- 
ness that was like translucence. And there was 
her voice. It was impossible to understand that 
I was never to see her again, never to hear her 
voice, after this. 

She was silent for a long time and I said noth* 
ing — nothing at all. It was the thought of her 
making Fox's end; of her sitting as Fox had 
sat, hopelessly, lifelessly, like a man waiting at 
the end of the world. At last she said : " There 
is no hope. We have to go our ways; you 
yours, I mine. And then if you will — ^if you 
cannot forget — ^you may remember that I cared; 
that, for a moment, in between two breaths, I 
thought of ... of failing. That is ill I can 
do ... for your sake." 

That silenced me. Even if I could have 
spoken to any purpose, I would have held my 
tongue now. 

[ 323 J 


I had not looked at her; but stood with my 
eyes averted, very conscious of her standing be- 
fore me; of her great beauty, of her great glory. 

After a long time I went away. I never saw 
her again. I never saw any one of them all 
again. Fox was dead and Giurchill I have never 
had the heart to face. That was the end of all 
that part of my life. It passed away and left me 
only a consciousness of weakness and . . . 
and regrets. She remains. One recognises her 
hand in the trend of events. Well, it is not a 
very gay world. Gurnard, they say, is the type 
of the age — of its spirit. And they say that I, 
the Granger of Etchingham, am not on terms 
with my brothers-in-law. 



OMonrcmr, ii.y. 


g iir\'>j- i